One Judge Too Many


james oakley 3jpg

James Oakley


jim powers

Jim Powers


Funny thing, county judges. Bert Cobb, the county judge in Hays County wears a full, William Renquist Supreme Court Justice-styled robe, even though Cobb has no law degree. Jim Powers still refers to himself as “Judge Powers” 10 years after his defeat. And James Oakley can’t decide whether he prefers President or Judge when he hears his name  but, rest assured,  he’ll gleefully answer to either. Perhaps these men need these titles to compensate for other shortcomings.

Former Hays County Judge Jim Powers is running unopposed in District 4. He will soon sit on the PEC board. It is unfortunate that the citizens in District 4 so take PEC for granted that they failed to field a viable candidate to oppose Mr. Powers. As a consequence PEC gets a political hack, a gold plated wheeler-dealer and undistinguished public servant better known for serving himself than the citizens of Hays County. A sitting county judge, Powers was dumped by Hays County voters (for good reason) in favor of Liz Sumpter in 2006. To get an idea why, here’s a little stroll down memory lane.

Powers, unfortunately, is as good as elected. Bad enough that a character like Powers will soon sit on the PEC board. He may soon join the tyrannical James Oakley, the current PEC Board president and absolute monarch of Burnet County. That is, of course, unless the members wise up and send Oakley packing. What is at stake? If Oakley is not defeated, the opportunity  to completely reverse the hard-earned reforms that were implemented since the fall of Bennie Fuelberg will come to pass. The wheeler-dealers care not a wit about the members or the cooperative model or anyone other than themselves. No wonder Americans in both political parties are in revolt with business as usual.

Only James Oakley looks into a mirror and sees no conflict of interest in his serving as the county judge of Burnet County and Board President of PEC. He sees nothing wrong with having a ringside seat into real estate and other business dealings that involve both county and cooperative interests (which are often at odds). He sees no irony in the fact that the groundbreaking of a Taj Majal of PEC district offices was recently dedicated in Burnet County to great fanfare and with full credit given to him while other districts (such as the one in Cedar Park which remains woefully in need)  await with a tin cup in hand for their facelifts. Nope. For Oakley, governing is all about what is good for James Oakley, morning noon and night.PEC Burnett County Headline

In just one short year as Board President, James Oakley has piled up an impressive record of embarrassments, anti-democratic actions and reform-reversal, to wit:
1.  Autocratic attempt to shut down members right to speak at board meetings. Changed rules and became sole decider on ….if, what and when members could speak. Result: backtrack & full board rebuked incident…referendum item on ballot June 2016
2.  Struck down Code of Conduct provision requiring sitting directors to remain neutral in director elections.  Door wide open with no restrictions on director actions. Anything goes.
3. Led initiative to release PEC member voting records to candidates for political direct mail targeting.  Enables direct mailing, no restrictions on content.
4. Initiated PEC officers non-noticed meetings, with management & staff for briefings, discussions on PEC business matters as non-quorum  meetings wherein there are no rules.  Abolished committees.  Quasi executive committee function.
5.  Has inherent conflicts of interest and has blurred the lines of fiduciary responsibilities between conflicting roles of PEC director and a county judge. Does not recognize the “appearance” of conflict of interest even if no actual conflict exists. Never recused himself from any transactions.   Unilaterally reversed a board decision in the public media in the Bertram decision.
James Oakley has to go. Send Oakley home to spend 100% of his time in Burnett County. Citizens are paying him amply to be there. Vote instead for the highly able Carlos Palasciano.



5 thoughts on “One Judge Too Many

  1. Once again, readers of this blog are routinely exposed to the disgruntled “Lost my seat” Larry version of reality. He paints and casts shadows within an imaginary world of his own creation. There is no conflict in my serving as Judge and as a Director. The PEC bylaws are very clear what constitutes a conflict. I could not be a qualified candidate if there was a conflict. Outside legal council has provided a written opinion that there is no conflict. Even Larry must have thought there was no conflict when he asked for my endorsement for his re-election to the Board. If there is a desire to change the rules, then let’s have that discussion. Where would that line be drawn ? Serving in an elected capacity of a POA, school board, city council, ESD, Senator, then be banned as being elected as well to serve on the co-op board ?

    So, one by one on your false points –

    1. I never tried to shut down having member comments at meetings, in fact I encourage it and have opened up agenda item discussions to include members present to weigh in. Larry, you know this as I have allowed you to do this. I have, however, utilized the authority and responsibility of the board chair to maintain decorum during the meeting. That meant muting a member when comments turned into personal attacks, unfounded accusations and innuendoes unrelated to the coop.

    2. I did indeed vote to remove this restriction that was not being respected anyway. Free speech is a constitutional right. If a Director has an opinion on an issue or candidate, they should have the right to express it.

    3. Yes, I voted for allowing voting members to receive information via post office mail. Only about 10% of the approx. 230,000 members vote. There is also a very easy way to opt out of that.

    4. Yes, I do invite the 2 officers to participate in the draft agenda build meeting. It is not a quorum of the board, not against any policies and is a very productive component in the process. The committee meetings you referred to is way that you and other prior directors used to charge the coop $500 for a gathering. Under my leadership, the Board only meets once a month, as required in the bylaws. This saves the coop thousands of dollars a month.

    5. You are mistaken on the facts of the Bertram office. Read the minutes, there was not a vote to close the office. So when rumors swirled that it was closing, I clarified the story to the press by word for word accounts of the minutes of the meeting.

    Also, you have cast a shadow on the construction of the Marble Falls facility. You failed to mention that this is a replacement facility. The existing facility sits on 10 acres, but only three are usable because a flood prone creek divides it. The build was found to have a severe mold issue, and you voted to replace it and we’re on the board when the scope of the new facility was developed. As for the other service areas like Cedar Park as you mention, I can assure you that there is a lot on the planning board for that area as well as other parts of the footprint. However, at this stage, particulars of these plans are protected as confidential executive session material.

    If anyone ever wants the real truth, just call me….

    James Oakley


  2. Oakley, you don’t pass the smell test. Larry’s right and if you can’t take the exposure then maybe you’re in the wrong profession.
    “appearance” of conflict of interest says it all.


  3. Editor’s Note: I removed James Oakley’s most recent comment, benign though it was. For the moment, Mr. Oakley will not have access to the comment area of this site for the following reason. I received several complaints from followers of this blog that whenever they clicked on Mr. Oakley’s most recent comment (in response to Les Carnes), they received a pop-up page that says “Gravitar”. While most people might ignore this and move on to something else, they found themselves unable to do so–frozen (because Gravitar is waiting for a response). They then had to exit the page and open a new tab to continue. A test was run of many other members on this blog and none were found to have this issue. I cannot expose the integrity of this site to any hint of cyber attack. If and when Mr. Oakley can fix what appear to be an infected IP address, then his comment rights will be restored.


  4. Change the title to Two Judges Too Many.

    Sounds like PEC is regressing to the good ol’ boys Bennie & Bud days. Gee, Bud was a judge too… coincidence? Make that three judges too many?

    The only positive is that General Manager Hewa isn’t a Bennie, and that we have a chance to elect an alternative on one of the judges. (Should be both. Where are our other candidates?)


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