July 26th Town Hall Meeting Recap
Leading up to the Annual Membership meeting, The Cobb EMC Board held a Town Hall meeting on July 26 of this year. Starting off the meeting was a presentation by Board Chairman Ed Crowell with input also being provided by several Board members. The floor was then opened to Member questions and several well reasoned and pertinent questions were raised. Some key takeaways from the Town Hall meeting for me were:
- The Board was working on a bylaw re-write to be presented for vote at the upcoming annual meeting to include provisions for open board meetings, term limits, and mail in voting,
- Work was forging ahead on the Request for Proposals (RFP) for capacity and energy and in excess of 70 viable bids have been received. Economics appear very favorable and justify the recent decision by our new Board of Directors to withdraw from the expensive boondoggle known as Plant Washington (aka Power4Georgians),
- Cobb EMC expects that the aforementioned RFP will enable it to cut its ties to Energy Consulting Group (ECG), as well as Cooperative Energy Incorporated (CEI) who are currently providing Cobb EMC with Energy Management Services on a “no bid” basis, and
- Cobb EMC is cutting its formerly expensive and questionable relationship with J. W. Rayder and allowing his contract reimbursing him up to $30,000/month to expire.
The overall tone of the meeting was open and congenial and yours truly was very encouraged that the new Board of Directors has made real progress in their inaugural year. The Town Hall meeting itself was an excellent example of our new Board of Directors reaching out to the Membership.
Re-write of the Bylaws and EMC Member Amendments – Vote Yes
The Town Hall meeting notwithstanding, there are several things that are unsettling. The board has performed what is essentially a complete re-write of the bylaws. The schedule upon which they have undertaken this has left no room for a Member comment period, so we are left with the choice of an up or down vote on the complete package on September 15th. The bylaws have only been recently made available so there has really been little time for anyone to review the content in detail. My read of the new bylaws is that we should vote for them primarily because of the mail-in voting and open meeting provisions. However, as I stated above, one of your fellow EMC members, Paul Chellis, has submitted two additional amendments to the bylaws that I strongly urge everyone to vote for.
The last several years saw significant erosion of our rights to participate in decisions made at our Member owned EMC. The new Board of Directors that we fought so hard to elect has made real progress to restore some of those rights, but still they need to remember why they were elected. Bylaw re-writes, even with some good enhancements, should have significant opportunity for Member participation and comment and this has definitely not occurred. While I am recommending that we approve the new bylaws, the new bylaws do have several flaws that will need to be addressed over time (and these have only been identified with a very short review time; I am not aware of any Member that has been able to make a detailed comparison to the previous bylaws in the time we have had thus far). For one, the open meetings provision is very watered down when compared to the one approved at the Pedernales Electric Cooperative in Texas after they went through a series of problems very similar to our own. In a story that will sound familiar to Cobb EMC Members, Pedernales General Manager Bennie Fuelberg was convicted of third- degree felony theft of co-op funds, money laundering and misappropriation of fiduciary