What I'd Like to Hear from My Enron Bosses
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
From NPR News, this is DAY TO DAY. In a federal court in Houston, Texas, Enron Chief Jeff Skilling is still on the stand, and is expected to testify into next week. Yesterday, he said he was absolutely innocent of the 28 charges against him relating to the fall of Enron. His codefendant, Enron former-president Ken Lay is expected to testify later this month.
Many former Enron employees, like Melody Gray, are paying close attention to the trial. We first came across Melody in 2003, three years ago, when she was selling some of her Enron commemorative Christmas ornaments on eBay for some spare cash. She sent us this essay from Houston.
Ms. MELODY GRAY (Former Enron Employee): (Reading) "It's hard to believe that it's coming on five years since Enron went bust. I clearly remember when it all started: December 3rd, 2001, black Monday. I can still see people crying, carrying boxes. They were given 30 minutes to pack--the news cameras in everyone's faces. I was told that day that I was on a very short list of people who would be called back, and as horrified as I was at seeing thousands of my coworkers lose their jobs, I was also grateful to be coming back the next morning.
It was strange working at Enron after bankruptcy. The only people I ever saw laughing were the bankruptcy lawyers that were brought in. I think they were on their way to the bank.
I was finally laid off last March, and honestly, it was a relief. Being at Enron then was like working with the living dead. We all kept up with the court proceedings, some more than others. Few have been willing to make treks to the courthouse, what with the expense of parking downtown, and I'm not wasting one more dime on them.
Now, seeing Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling on the news, smiling with suntans that look like they've squeezed in more than a few rounds on the golf course, I am disgusted. I'd like to see them cry and say how sorry they are and how badly they feel, and then promise to devote their lives to humble humanitarian work. But I'm a realist. That's probably not going to happen.
I still keep in touch with ex-Enron folks, and I sent them an email around to find out what they all thought of the trial. One wrote, 'They should say publicly that they are sorry that their greed ended what the rest of us were working so hard to keep alive. Then I think they should be banned from starting businesses again.' Another wrote, 'Just put them in jail and give us their money. I have bills to pay.'
I'm not holding out for the money, and prison seems like a good start, but if they are found guilty, I have a novel suggestion for punishment. What if they had to sit down and listen to the thousands of stories from employees and investors of how Enron destroyed their lives? Wouldn't that take five to 10 years, too?"
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BRAND: Former Enron employee Melody Gray started a new job yesterday. You can hear more essays from Melody at our Web site, NPR.org. Also, you'll find bios of each of the key players in the trial, a step-by-step history of the rise and fall on Enron, from Fortune 500 Company to and empty office tower in Houston, and we have portions of the notorious Enron tapes. That's where traders are heard plotting how to rig the national energy market. That's all at NPR.org.
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