PEC’s Noisy Member Echo Chamber

I see where the Board of Directors received yet another palaverous, single-spaced tome of a letter from PEC member Bob Rodi this weekLarry Landakernew. Rodi first made his presence known to PEC four or five years ago. He appeared at the July 2015 board meeting today.  It has been a long dry stretch since Mr. Rodi last wrote which might explain why his words reveal a dated tone.  I know the board received his 8-page, single-spaced letter because Rodi shared it, along with his 7-page resume with member- provocateur, Ernest Altgelt. Altgelt, PEC’s monthly carnival barker, in turn, made it a public letter by sending it to the news media in San Antonio and Austin. Classy fellow, Mr. Altgelt.

Rodi, apparently an unwitting casualty of his own hubris, did not disappoint on this occasion. His is a multi-page, single-spaced indictment of all that is wrong with PEC– how it operates in secrecy, how it has failed to compete in the new energy order, how it spends lavishly, how cost impact studies are never done, how it lets its members down… if only they would listen to someone like ME, he pleads, everything would be phantasmagorical.

Mr. Rodi asked for but was denied extra time to make his comments today. He was given three minutes and proceeded to utter very little. I have a rule I follow in life–if one can’t make a convincing pitch on a 3-floor elevator ride, then one may not possess a clear idea.

When I was on the board I implored members to have a point. Cut to it! Tell us what you want. We are not Medieval monks with a spare afternoon to sit in seclusion and wade through dissertations. In his eternal letter Mr. Rodi laments the fact that “there was no collective Board response” in the past regarding his “perceptions, recommendations, or offers” and that his multiple attempts always drew silence. I wonder why. Could it have had something to do with Mr. Rodi’s not-so-subtle attempts to gain either employment or a consulting post at PEC as he was making his “recommendations”? Is it possible that Mr. Rodi still harbors his old fantasies of gainful employment or consulting work at PEC now that the board and its power center has changed hands?

For his part, Mr. Altgelt is using Rodi’s letter to demand that PEC management respond verbatim to the Rodi indictment. This is a rabbit hole unworthy of pursuit.  I hope CEO John Hewa and the board put both documents in a pie and bake it. While PEC has not heard from Rodi in a few years, he seems to view the retirement of Patrick Cox and my defeat at the polls as a turning point for his fondest hopes of leading PEC to a new promised land.  He seems to believe that this would be a great time for the Board to start all over under his tutelage.

Here is my three-floor-elevator-ride retort to Mr. Rodi. The same goes to some of the other regular gasbags who have dominated the center of an echo chamber in PEC meetings over the last 6 years: The election of 2015 does NOT, as Mr. Rodi suggests, indicate a “growing discontent” among member-owners. It was NOT a referendum favoring customer choice–a fool’s errand if ever there was. It was not a signal to retreat from the renewable energy resolution passed by the board last March.Bob Rodi

To the contrary, research suggests that most members are satisfied with PEC–a finding that is borne out over and over. Let the word go forth. New voices, drowned in the past by the cacophony of these half-informed bloviator-loons, will be heard. Mine will be one of them. PEC has members who see the world differently than the echo chamber noisemakers of the past. These new voices plan to be very vocal. They favor more renewable energy, more control over their energy bills, capital credits and reliable service. Contrary to myth, PEC rates are NOT the highest in the state–far from it. If PEC members did pay a couple bucks more a month than someone else in the universe, it does not mean the cooperative is an abject failure!  PEC is a leader among electric cooperatives in Texas and the nation by almost any way you measure it. PEC members have a good deal and they know it.

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7 thoughts on “PEC’s Noisy Member Echo Chamber

  1. Larry,

    What the 2015 election symbolizes is the desperation of an industry in decline. The dollar sums that have been cited as having been spent by the challengers – both those who were successful and those who failed in their bid to unseat serving Directors – are a clear indicator of that panic to secure their hold on electrical generation by 19th century means. But the market those folks claim to worship will out and darn soon. Coal is already a market loser in electrical generation and even the vaunted natural gas is losing ground on the basis of cost at a rapid rate. Those fossils of the fossil fuel industry can buy the board election of what has become a national leader in electric co-ops but they can’t stop the march of renewable electricity generation.

    By the way, good elevator speech, Mr. Landaker.

    Dave Collins
    Johnson City
    PEC Member since 1995

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  2. Wow, do I need to respond….!! – thanks Larry! (but you might regret it). No offense intended….

    I have observed amazing arrogance on the part of some board members and, frankly, Larry’s attacking comments here illustrate that to a tee.
    To keep this in perspective, my comments here go to all those who can comprehend it, not just to Larry.

    It is not the “job” of a PEC member to speak the way a Board member arrogantly REQUIRES them to speak – it is the Boardies’ job to UNDERSTAND their intentions regardless of how it is spoken and, as I just said, to COMPREHEND what wisdom might be in the words. It seems that 99-100% of member comments go without any action or positive responses – yet there have been many negative rebuttals to quell points being made. One thing’s for sure, Mr. Algelt speaks concisely and to the point, yet his “demeanor” seems to block the minds of the beholders. Perhaps his “demeanor” is born from a passion which might be coming from that place of “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Yes, perhaps it could do him good to tone it down a little, but he’s almost always correct in what he says…(almost)….please stand up if you’re always right and you always speak just the way we think you should.

    Please do something other than sitting there judging people and wondering how long it’ll take the HUGE $750 “meeting payment” to hit your bank account or when your next free trip will lift off while you sit through another meeting doing NOTHING and ignoring all comments made by the few PEC members who bother to show up – making few motions and no apparent “team” behaviors to MOVE ON WITH THINGS…holding back information from your own Board member(s) and, of course, the public…moving like SNAILS to make any progress toward future planning, rate negotiations and getting ready for when pole transmission of electricity is in the past…what then?

    Electricity is in the WATER….Hydrogen is in the WATER….there are prototype (and even some production) vehicles driving around using these technologies NOW….it’s just a matter of time until they are sitting in metal boxes next to each house generating electricity for the family – maybe 10 years or so. Is it wise to actually finance individual power plants which diminish the PEC toward bankruptcy? (it’s the ONLY way it can go if you think it through). What does the future REALLY look like and what role will PEC create for itself in that future?

    Why does the Board seem to be making cult-like pledges to KEEP QUIET with things spoken IN SECRET behind closed doors to gag each other from telling the public what’s happening? There is NO need for that whatsoever and the OPPOSITE would keep everyone on their toes and on the ball to get things done! If some company has you negotiate in “secret” or keep a contract “secret”, then I’d say don’t do business with them under THOSE circumstances. PEC is a HUGE customer….act like one! If it’s all public, then there is less “insider trading”, with more honesty and fair play. If a competitor sees this and comes forth with a better deal, isn’t THAT a GOOD thing?….good ‘ol competition.

    And, back to the $750 “meeting payment” (the equivalent of $180,000 per year!). Is there even ONE (count ’em, ONE) PEC lineman who makes that in one WHOLE SWEATY CLIMB THE POLE AND MAYBE PAY THEIR BILLS AND FEED THEIR FAMILY workday?….THEY are the BACKBONE and the GUTS of the PEC….THEY should be the HIGHEST PAID people on the payroll….think about THAT. Is another “white collar scam” going on here? Why on earth should Board members or bosses get paid more than the linemen?

    And there is very little learned on these trips that can’t be learned online, with a phone or Skype or a conference call or two. Ever heard of “Google”? The entire Board could have conference calls with other Boards or groups/individuals for information sharing sessions, for example. Be creative, rather than taking mani-pedi trips for THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of dollars, when the same results can be gained for little or no costs to PEC in-house and/or on your laptop or with a phone app. Perhaps create a nationwide information sharing network (if it doesn’t already exist) ….should be pretty simple to accomplish.

    Algelt is correct….PEC is NOT TRANSPARENT. Only what is required BY LAW should be redacted – and that is very little. Yet instead, it is VERY LITTLE that is put in the light so that all members and the public can see and hear what you each think, say and do. Why all the hiding? And fighting a legal battle with a Boardie who has to SUE to look at information that is being hidden from him? Oh please!!! How can you? IMO, Mr. Perry the best sitting Board member. He speaks with wisdom and insight and asks very worthy questions…those are good traits. Why not make EVERYTHING an “open record”, so nobody has to request it (except in the rare cases where law REQUIRES redaction)? Simple, concise, clear…can this be comprehended by this Board and will this Board change this? Make a motion and a second and vote on it.

    And, btw, the President is out of order if they prompt or make a motion…the REST of the Board is supposed to be AWAKE and ACTIVE….!!…Wake up and get with it! Many times, including the past meeting, I have observed “Out of order” behaviors by the President, yet NO Board member noticed or called “Point of order”. You may recall recently (and finally), Algelt spoke up one day when this occurred (again) and he was treated like a criminal, with NO Boardie taking action to call point of order. Yet Altgelt was CORRECT. Robert’s Rules of Order is there for a reason….the President presides over meetings and sets agendas AS THE BOARD SEES FIT. No President is perfect and they should never bully, prompt for motions or make motions or do business that is out of order and/or not given proper public notice prior to the meeting. Do all the Boardies know the process?

    Altgelt has been (repeatedly) correct that the Board should have (and still can) URGE the Justice system to punish the criminals that VICTIMIZED the PEC and it’s members for MILLIONS – but the Board does NOTHING…!!…nothing sent to the Judge from the victims due to Board complacency – so the Judge hears crickets and then feels free to set up a country club punishment phase for the crooks. How about send a simple direct and clear LETTER TO THE JUDGE….now! Or, is it politics?….the fear that if you speak up “against” Bennie and Bud, that their friends will defeat you in some election?….That is the CORE of corruption and ugly politics – have COURAGE and STAND TALL….!!

    ALERT…ALERT!!
    The past election was done INCORRECTLY by the company PEC hired that is SUPPOSED to be “expert” at it. They KNEW (or should have) that all candidates MUST get equal time in EACH position on the ballot and on election materials in order to have a proper election without bias due to ballot position. When only ONE candidate is put at the top (and on the FRONT PAGE of the literature!), this gives that ONE candidate at least a 2% swing in the vote. Therefore, the District One election, if run properly, would have had a different result – thus, it should be redone in order to be legal and correct….or to simply turn that seat over to the other candidate, since he would have won. There seems to be an elephant in the room about this issue. Are you planning to hire those election people again? Do some research and do the math…..the election was done WRONG and it flip-flopped the District One race, plain and simple…! Mr. Axford has been very gentlemanly about not raising a fuss, yet THAT should not be necessary, as I would think all Boardies would want the elections done RIGHT. That was the only seat affected in such a way as to elect the wrong candidate because it was done WRONG – so set it right!! And, for the record, I’d say the same regardless of who this affected…right is right!

    Well, I could go on (and reserve that for another day), yet I guess I’ve exceeded my 3 minutes and Larry is probably perturbed at having too much to comprehend. Diminishing or demeaning member comments is inexcusable and flagrantly repulsive!

    – (the Ghost of PEC)

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    • I was in some agreement with you Mr. or Ms. Ghost (whoever you are, hiding your real name) until you you implied that board members were making $180k per year. So you lose all credibility with such an outlandish statement. I don’t think any board members made more than $38-40k last year. It’s all public record. And then you went on to whine about the the election as being somehow unfair because Axford’s bio made the back page. Believe me if someone was interested in his bio they would have found it. Axford lost (as I lost) because he lost. Someone ran a better campaign and beat him. He lost in his own district (which is as red as a balloon) to a democrat! He was a bad candidate. Thank you for writing.

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      • Larry, you are not comprehending correctly…..
        1. When Board members get $750 for ONE day (or less) of “work”, that is the yearly EQUIVALENT of $180,000 – do the math.
        2. The District One election was not like yours at all…it was MUCH closer…close enough that the ballot ORDER is what gave the election to the wrong candidate.
        Even the PEC Attorney (Richards) admitted that something should be done about the ballot and literature order issue. If you do a little research, look at the vote count and do the math, you’ll see this is correct….Clement did not win the election – the ballot order (and being on the FRONT PAGE of the literature!) is what gave her the election instead of Axford. Here is one link for you: http://insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu/article/first_among_equals
        Glad you’re staying active with PEC matters…it needs more watchdogs, for sure.

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  3. Two points for discussion:
    1. If there are specific “behaviors” that the PEC Board feels Altgelt (et al) should conform to that are reasonable and do not impede his right as a member (and U.S. citizen) to speak or delve into matters withheld from the members, then spell it out specifically and present it to him and the public at large. Be VERY careful however, for oftentimes those being asked “uncomfortable” questions are tempted to make RULES just to be “comfortable” and so they never have to fear being asked questions about what is/was and will be going on at PEC. Tough questions SHOULD BE ASKED. Sometimes Altgelt is THE ONLY MEMBER THERE!! Keep in mind the many standing ovations after members spoke at the annual meetings – – yes, standing ovations! – all of which seemingly fell on deaf ears by the Board and CEO. Thus, hard questions SHOULD BE ASKED. Is it unreasonable to ask if there are people still working at PEC who were “Bennie’s Babes” (as the press nicknamed them)? Not at all….they received PEC monetary “things” from the crooks who are FINALLY doing jail time and they might still be working there. Is it unreasonable to ask if there are people still working at PEC who bought STOLEN multimedia devices from the crooks who were recently selling them? Not at all….this was swept under the rug by the CEO simply saying (basically) that he took care of the matter…but those people are still there. Is it unreasonable to ask for full transparency instead of prolonged time/effort to get “open records”? Not at all. Of course, you can add many more examples here….these subjects might not be “comfortable”, so you could make rules by the fools and prohibit them from being asked….that is the CROOKED way to do things. Or, just make ALL things open and honest and fewer questions need to be asked. DO THE RIGHT THING….tread LIGHTLY on the “you can’t say or behave a certain way”.
    2. The recent Oakley “Dictator” behaviors seemed to be orchestrated in harmony with the advice of Mr. Richards, the “outside counsel”. What was Mr Richard’s role in this orchestrated event and what are his consequences? ASK THE TOUGH QUESTIONS!!!

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