One of the biggest questions in the San Diego Opera brouhaha is about whether general director Ian Campbell and his ex-wife Ann Spira Campbell will get paid generous benefits if the opera closes down.
Karen Cohn, the chairwoman who resigned yesterday, first said the Campbells would get nothing. She kept repeating that even after saying the Campbells would get in line behnd other unsecured creditors. That was double-talk. Lawyers have been recruited to write ambivalent, enigmatic letters indicating the Campbells won't fill their pockets if the opera goes down.
There was a meeting on March 11 of this year in which the Campbells, powerhouse boardmember Faye Wilson (who has also resigned), and a few other insiders plotted how to present their plan to abruptly shut down the opera at the March 19 board meeting. The board did vote overwhelmingly to shut down but later backed away from that course.
I have learned that Wilson told the Campbells to not mention their Supplemental Employee Retirement plan or their extremely generous contracts before other items were discussed at that meeting. (Their contracts indicate Ian Campbell can be paid through 2017, and his ex-wife Ann can be paid 18 months of salary after she departs. And there are other possible benefits, such as the supplemental plan, that they may be eligible for.)
Wilson, a veteran banker who was in on the founding of Home Depot, told the Campbells that in the corporate world, smart executives don't lead off a meeting discussing the fat checks they might receive if the action they are pushing is taken.