Leonard Abess Jr. was hailed by President Obama last night as a national inspiration, a bank president from Miami "who reportedly cashed out of his company, took a $60 million bonus, and gave it out to all 399 people who worked for him, plus another 72 who used to work for him,'' Obama said.
Back in the 1980s, Abess was a hero when he regained control of the bank his family had founded in the 1940s after it had been come under the ownership of a scam artist (eventually convicted).
Abess had these things to say to Florida Trend magazine back in 1987:
Since coming back to City National in late 1983, Abess has stressed conservative banking practices. "I think we have to be very sensitive about maintaining a sense of safety and soundness at City National," he says. "I want us to seem as rock solid as I remember Irving Trust seemed when I was a kid."
Here's another radical statement from the story: Absess said he "would rather have the bank's capital in cash and short-term instruments than in risky loans."
Please, Mr. President, give this man a job.