UPDATED 3:45 PM
Is this new CEO "independent" as the OU promised he would be?
Bernard S. Feldman is Agriprocessors' attorney who represented Agriprocessors during the Allou Healthcare fraud investigation.
This raises a number of issues regarding independence, attorney client privilege and ongoing state and federal investigations and criminal cases, and other issues of transparency.
Plus, Feldman will not be living in Postville.
Is his appointment smoke and mirrors?
It looks that way.
Here is the official press release:
For Immediate Release
For More Information, please contact:
Agriprocessors Names Bernard S. Feldman its New CEO
Postville, Iowa – September 18, 2008…Bernard S. Feldman, 63, a prominent New
York attorney, was named the new Chief Executive Officer for Agriprocessors.
Mr. Feldman, a resident Long Island, specializes in corporate law,
debtor/creditors rights and workouts. As a specialist in the reorganization
of many companies, Mr. Feldman’s first task will be to restore production at
the plant to the level of pre-May 12th, the date of an immigration raid at
the plant, said Aaron Rubashkin.
In accepting the position, Mr. Feldman said that he “looked forward to
putting the company back on its feet and guiding it in the appropriate
direction.” He emphasized that he was “an attorney who helped many companies
regain their former position in an industry.”
Mr. Feldman’s statement continued: “The Company has made significant strides
since May 12th in putting together a highly professional team with a great
deal of integrity. I look forward to working with these people, including
Jim Martin, a former US Attorney in Missouri, who serves as the compliance
officer for our company. I will also work closely with the professional
manpower firms, and OSHA specialists amongst others.”
In speaking about his philosophy about Agriprocessors, Mr. Feldman noted:
“Agriprocessors is more than a company: it is an institution and an absolute
necessity in the Orthodox Jewish community and in the many other communities
who wish to eat kosher foods.” He added that he looks forward to a close
cooperation with the rabbis and agencies that certify the kosher status of
Agri’s products: He added: “Kashrus was and is a primary focus of the
company and is the reason why the company has been such a major success
since its founding. We will also continue to focus on our exceptional
quality and fair pricing, as the hallmarks of our future success.”
Mr. Feldman particularly singled out his intention to work closely with
governmental agencies that are concerned with the safety of our products and
the treatment of workers and animals. “In short, I have every intention of
making Agriprocessors a model of kosher production.”
Here is the OU's response:
…Rabbi Menachem Genack, the O.U.'s head of kosher supervision, told JTA Thursday that he had met Sunday night with Feldman and was pleased with the decision, calling it "credible and wise."
"We will continue to monitor the situation," Genack said, "but we're pleased by the turn of events."
In the JTA interview, Feldman enumerated several goals he intends to pursue, including restoring Agriprocessors to "prominence," ensuring good record keeping, complying with government regulations and resupplying the company with "qualified productive employees." Feldman said he would stay "on board" as long as it takes to achieve those goals.
So it seems Rabbi Genack is happy with a CEO who is figurehead, with no industry experience, and who has deep ties to the Rubashkin family.
So much for putting any hope in the OU.
[Hat tips: FF, etc.]