James Oakley Must Go

Editorial Opinion by Larry Landaker

Oakley car.jpg

The car pictured above is provided to Burnet County Judge James Oakley, presumably for the purpose of conducting county business in Burnet County. So what is it doing at PEC headquarters in Johnson City, the county seat of Blanco County?  Obviously, Mr. Oakley is at PEC conducting PEC business in his well-paid moonlighting position as PEC Board President. Since PEC doesn’t provide him a car, Mr. Oakley has to make do with a car provided by the taxpayers of Burnet County. To be absolutely sure everyone knows who’s inside this glistening white Tahoe, Mr. Oakley has had it marked with his preferred title on all sides, “County Judge”.

Oakley

PEC Board President and Burnet County Judge James Oakley

 

Oakley and  Dripping Springs resident Jim Powers are running in tandem in this campaign, their names plastered on expensive mailers funded by interests likely bent on either killing renewable energy or pushing PEC into investor-owned control (aka customer choice), or both.

For his part, Powers is running unopposed. He is a former Hays County judge, dumped by voters in 2006, following a discredited reign in office (see One Judge Too Many, May 22, 2016).

jim powers

Candidate Jim Powers

 

 

I suspect the election will be closer than many expect. Mr. Oakley’s opponent, the highly talented Carlos Palasciano may well pull off an upset. Mr. Palasciano has campaigned hard, championing his beliefs that PEC needs fresh new vision and the need to protect PEC’s independence and autonomy.

Carlos Palaciano

Candidate Carlos Palasciano

Should Mr. Oakley lose, the winners will be PEC and its member-owners. Should he win, there is only one thing that can be done to save the cooperative from a fatal return to its historic fetish for strong-man, anti-democratic governance. Salvation can only come from a newly organized Board leadership that does not include James Oakley as board president. There are plenty of people now serving–in fact, any of them now serving, who are qualified to sit as president. At least the ones I know seem to respect the principles of democratic governance.

In the one year since Mr. Oakley was elected board president, he has remained oblivious to the perception of a conflict of interest in serving two masters with unique and intersecting proprietary interests–Burnet County and PEC. He has autocratically attempted to shut down members right to speak, struck down board code of conduct provisions and led the effort to violate the privacy of members who voted in past PEC elections. He threw his own board and its CEO under a bus by publically and unilaterally reversing (in the media) a board decision to close the Bertram office. (see The Bertram Fiasco, September 6, 2015).   He grabbed public credit for plans to build a two-story  $17 million PEC “hub” in Burnet County, upstaging other directors who supported it. And that is just the short list.

The board must not permit this Oakley-Powers axis of wheeler-dealers, two county judge hacks with a penchant for bullying, to dominate the cooperative. It must muster the courage to re-organize with a new board president at the helm. It must be someone perceived to have PEC interests at heart, someone with unimpeachable integrity. The board is full of talented people who are capable of presiding over meetings–the only real duty that is assigned to the Board President under the bylaws. The only question is, can the board save itself from certain tyranny?

Members who have not voted may do so in person at the Annual Membership Meeting tomorrow, Saturday, June 18, at Dripping Springs High School Performing Arts Center, 940 Highway 290 West. Registration, voting and activities start at 8 a.m. and the business meeting begins at 10:30 a.m. Members are invited to attend for PEC business updates, Board election voting and results, and door prizes.

 

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “James Oakley Must Go

  1. Larry –

    What you failed to mention is that one the occasions that I am in that vehicle, I leave directly from the Board Meeting to attend the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) Board Meeting in Austin that starts at 6pm. I am the Burnet County appointee to that Board.

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  2. Larry –

    Also, to clarify again, I have always advocated cost effective renewable power contracts. I have always said that I am against “choice” for a variety of reasons. I have said it during the meetings, on video, and during the candidate questionnaire. The link to that is in the PEC website. And no, the coop is not for sale, never has been and will not be as long as I’m on the board. Larry, I refuse to let you define me.

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  3. Larry –

    You claim this blog is “unvarnished truth”, yet it does seem covered at times with a layer of BS. In regard to the Bertram office, you should include a link to the minutes of the meeting when that was voted on. You will see there was a unanimous vote to close a short list of offices, Bertram was not in that list. I reversed nothing, I did however clarify to the press, when I was asked, what exactly the vote was. I would also add that the minutes of that meeting were unanimously approved by the Board at the next meeting. If anyone has any questions, please call me at 512-744-5205.

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  4. Larry –

    I have to correct yet another of your lies. I have never tried to shut down member comments. I did shut down one members comments when those comments did not adhere to the Decorum Policy that you voted for. I have routinely opened up discussion to include members in the room, including you. Larry, you seem to be slipping off the deep end.

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  5. My gosh, this is getting old. Without trying to go point-by-point in detail with you, James, and since I was at ALL the Board meetings where these things transpired, I have to give Larry credit for an overwhelming degree of accuracy. ( I’ll grant that the matter about the Burnet County SUV was not worth bringing up, and Larry should have left it alone.)

    No one doubted at the time of the “compression” of the Betram office that the word meant “Close”, since a big red “X” was on the map, along with similar notation for other offices that would be closed.

    As far as shutting down member comments, you (1) unilaterally rewrote the decorum policy to redefine and significantly limit their scope – a policy that had been enacted by a previous Board, and in the opinion of several Board members, your meddling with them without Board approval was a violation of the Bylaws (2) and you stated that member comments are a privilege and not a right. The storm of outrage that resulted was testimony to the way other people took it – not just Larry.

    I’m not worried about the things on Larry’s latest post (Bertram, SUV, member comments). They are minor. The big ones scare me, which Larry did not mention, but which are amply discussed in past installments of Larry’s blog.

    Your style has set you up for a mighty, humpty-dumpty-like fall, James – if not tomorrow, then surely later. All the kings horses and all the kings men won’t be able to put you together again. I will get no pleasure when it happens. And I’m very sad about the legacy you are paving for yourself.

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  6. Well Richard, that’s your view from the cheap seats. I challenge you to watch the video where the outside legal council clearly depicted how I changed nothing. In fact, he said how he placed the existing decorum policy on the sign up sheet. As for Bertram, the map does not matter. Words in a resolution, a motion, a vote and reflective minutes do. Compress does not mean close, if it did, then there would have been no need for a second category. There may indeed be discussions in executive session that you of course are not exposed to.

    My style seemed just fine to you when I offered, and you wagged your tail like a lap dog to be included in agenda item discussions.

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