Member Free Speech a Right at PEC. Altgelt Future in Doubt

A special called meeting of the PEC board of directors today resulted in several pec free speech aheadactions or promised actions on the question of a member’s right to speak before the board. During open session the board unanimously adopted a resolution affirming the right to speak before the board as part of the open meeting policy. The board rejected the comments made at the August 18 meeting by President James Oakley who suggested that a member’s right to speak was “discretionary”, “a privilege” and “not a right”.

Several members spoke today to challenge Oakley’s assertions. Notably absent was member Ernest Altgelt, who was denied the right to speak by Oakley at the August 18 meeting.

Additionally, the board directed its General Counsel to draft language suitable for a change to the Member Bill of Rights for ratification by the members in June, 2016. This language will closely mirror the language in the open meeting policy. Passage of a change to the Member Bill of Rights will memorialize the right to speak–a right that cannot be taken away by any future board or board of directors.

Finally, the board directed staff to review and draft language for an updated decorum policy that reflects the changes considered today pertaining to the rights and limitations of speaking before the board. A draft of this policy is due for board review at the September board meeting.

PEC free speech not a license to abuseENOUGH! Mr. Altgelt’s whereabouts today was unknown but PEC Truthwatch has learned from multiple sources that several employees have recently complained about “inappropriate behavior” by Mr. Altgelt in interactions they have experienced with him while he is in the headquarters building attending board meetings. Mr. Altgelt’s activities includes uninvited questioning, badgering and other “in-your-face” nuisance-type activity that employees feel powerless to repel. Member Joe Summy brought this matter to the attention of the board today during his member comments. Mr. Altgelt has reportedly been warned on several occasions over an 18 month period about his actions.Altgelt This news is particularly distressing in light of the fact that many members, including me, rose today to defend his right to speak. The free speech victory now largely won, Mr. Altgelt appears by his own actions, to have worn out his welcome. If the accusations are true, Mr. Altgelt, should voluntarily refrain from visiting PEC property and view the meetings from his home. It is impossible to defend such behavior.

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5 thoughts on “Member Free Speech a Right at PEC. Altgelt Future in Doubt

  1. In an ironic sort of way, we owe Mr. Altgelt a “Thankyou” for being the lightning rod that precipitated an otherwise good outcome. From frequent encounters with Mr. Altgelt at past Board meetings, I perceive him to be a conversationally engaging person, to say the least, but have never felt harassed by him. Mildly annoyed, yes. But harassed, no. I’m sorry to hear that several PEC employees have felt harassed. However, I see a far worse threat to PEC exerting itself in meetings than Mr. Algelt ever was, but will withhold comment.

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  2. Larry…Thanks for this blog where various opinions can be expressed. You and I have not always agreed on issues but with you and most of the other board members we have always had a cordial relationship…differing on ideas not personalities.

    As far as the decorum policy: it just needs to be consistently enforced with just good manners expected from everyone—members, board members, and employees. I have seen you personally attacked over your own private financial issues totally unrelated to you be being a good board member; I have seen another president insulted simply because he had a Ph.D. Another insulted for going to “too” many training events. (I do expect and I do want my directors trained, and retrained…but not live “too high on the hog” while doing it.) And, Judge Oakley attacked for his private business affairs. These are just a few examples.

    In addition, the harassment of employees has been outrageous and, especially insulting to female employees. And, it has gone on longer than 18 months. I have feared for a longtime that a husband would take take action if the PEC didn’t. I have continually warned…even pleaded with a member about this.

    Thus, Judge Oakley took a stand and it was planned, and intentional, but with input from counsel. It was similar to one you made about members bringing protest posters into the meetings. I don’t know if I would do it the same way. But I do appreciate that he did something, like you did.

    When I look into the policies etc. at the PEC which supposedly guarantee the rights of members to speak at meetings…and to speak on anything they want (my own expertise are in leadership, governance, investigating, and education), I was surprised I couldn’t find it. I even had other governance experts look at it. I believe all the board members were surprised that, like it on not,
    Judge Oakley was correct in his assertions at the prior board meeting.

    As you know the president of the board has an important role in making sure meetings run smoothly, and that democratic principals and decorum policies are upheld within the rules and policies of the organization- it is a delicate balance. Thus he/she is given wide latitude in upholding these policies—and he/she can be overruled by a majority vote of the other board members.

    Oakley has been criticized for preempting a member/speaker at a prior meeting, However, this is one of the discretionary powers of a board president, and again, the other board members could have overruled him. This is an important check on the abuse of power by the president. They didn’t do it. If members would unbiasely and carefully review prior meetings they would understand why he preempted a member who has a distinctive baiting technique easily recognized by a trained observer.

    Yesterday the board took the needed steps to make sure language is clarified so that members can speak on any PEC issue they want, But just as importantly, they appeared to fully understand the need for appropriate decorum. As I stated at the meeting, I will rigorously hold all board members accountable for upholding democratic principles and appropriate decorum as the rules and polices apply to the PEC. Employees, and especially the female employees, are totally off limits for abuse.

    It is now time, as Mr. Mark Axford implied, for the board to concentrate on the business issues of the PEC. All the drama might make for interesting meetings….but I much prefer “dull business like” business meetings that are over in 2-3 hours instead of all day marathons, which indicates a lot of micro-managing by the board members.

    De Colores!

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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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  4. I usually don’t respond to writers who write anonymously. However, in this incidence I will because the writer apparently hasn’t done any in-depth research into what has been going on for a longtime…years.

    Asking tough questions or making tough statements about the PEC or even free speech are not the issues here. I made some pretty strong statements at yesterday’s meeting….It is all about abusive behaviors that most often haven’t appeared in the videos.

    One should always do some in-depth research before jumping into the deep murky pond of controversy. I did that.

    What Pres. Oakley did was handle a situation that prior presidents and board members have failed to do for years. In addition, Mr. Richard’s job is to advise and clarify issues…he did that very well yesterday. And the board responded responsibly to his input….whereby PEC members will be able to speak on PEC issues and where proper decorum will be expected and failure to so will have consequences. All Boards have these rules.

    It is about appropriate board meeting procedures and ensuring appropriate decorum is followed.

    Joe Summy, Ed.D.
    Leadership, Governance, Investigating, Education Specialist.

    PEC Member

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  5. In addition, a handful of members applauding at the annual meeting is hardly representative of the 230,000 members. And when only 10% of the members vote there is no mandate from the PEC members for the board members to do anything except use their wisdom to make decisions that benefit the 230,000 members and not the special interested who helped them to be elected with about 5% of the total membership. The low numbers of members voting is the major problem with democracy at the PEC…and a sure indicator that at-large elections have failed.

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