"We've got over about $100 million in Home Depot stock," says New York City comptroller William Thompson, who oversees the pension funds for all city employees.
"So they're watching money that should have gone into their pockets go into a CEO's pocket," Thompson says. "And in addition to that, they're losing money on their investment. Something was clearly wrong."
Under mounting pressure, Home Depot's board today abruptly.
"This is a perfect example of a very significant trend," says Sara Teslik, former CEO of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. "CEOs aren't being given as much latitude. They're not being given as much time."
But they're still being paid plenty when they go. Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina was given a $42 million golden parachute in 2005. When Pfizer fired CEO Hank McKinnell last year, he got $198 million. But Nardelli tops them all: After just six years, Home Depot will pay him $210 million to leave.
However, Thompson still thinks Nardelli's departure sends a message.
"These excessive pay packages — we're not gonna stand for it any longer," Thompson says.
But don't cry for Nardelli. This is his compensation agreement: Most of that $210 million exit package he'll get is in stock. But he also gets $20 million in cash.