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NYSE may remove plaque with Grasso name

The NYSE may remove a plaque commemorating victims of the 9/11 attacks because it features disgraced former chairman Dick Grasso's name, sources close to the matter said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The New York Stock Exchange may remove a plaque commemorating victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks because it features disgraced former chairman Dick Grasso's name, sources close to the matter told The Associated Press on Friday.

While no final decision has been made on removing the plaque, placed on the exchange's Wall Street headquarters, sources speaking on condition of anonymity said the exchange's membership felt that the signature — "Dick Grasso, Chairman and CEO" — was self-aggrandizing, and hope to replace it with a plaque that is more inclusive of the overall exchange.

A spokesman for the NYSE had no comment on the plaque flap, which was first reported by The New York Times in Friday's editions. A spokesman for Grasso said the former executive, under fire for his $187.5 million compensation and retirement package, thought the matter was "petty."

"If there are individuals who want to take down the plaque honoring the memory of the victims of the 9-11 tragedy to spite Dick Grasso, it says more about the pettiness of these individuals than it reflects on Mr. Grasso," said spokesman Eric Starkman.

Starkman said it was common practice for past chairmen and chief executives to place their names on commemorative plaques at the exchange. A nearby plaque commemorating the NYSE's bicentennial in 1992 features the names of then-chairman William Donaldson — now the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission — and Grasso, who was chief executive at the time.

Sources said the move was not meant to disparage Grasso's legacy, but to be more inclusive of everyone at the NYSE who worked hard to reopen the exchange just six days after the 2001 attacks. There were those, however, who felt the plaque played into Grasso's oversized public image.

Widely praised at the time for his Sept. 11 recovery efforts, Grasso was ousted last September when the details of his pay package became public. Current interim chairman John Reed has insisted that Grasso return $120 million of his compensation, and the New York attorney general's office is investigating both Grasso and the board members who authorized his pay.

The plaque, right near the exchange's entrance at 2 Broad St., includes the title "Let Freedom Ring" and features an image of the exchange building, its columns wrapped in the American flag. It commemorates the victims of the attacks and praises fallen police officers and firemen. Grasso's name and titles appear in the lower right corner.