By Larry Landaker, Editor and Publisher, PECTruthwatch
A special called meeting of the Board of Directors was held yesterday, November 30, in Johnson City. To a full, tension-filled house, the Board listened to members and employees discuss the controversy surrounding recent Facebook remarks by Board member, James Oakley (chronicled in the past two or three posts on this blog). The meeting lasted approximately two hours before the board retreated to Executive Session.
Later, the Board reported the following statement:
PEC has received and considered the complaint regarding Director Oakley’s social media comment.
A committee of board members has been formed to consider all allowable actions, per the cooperative’s bylaws.
PEC does not condone any type of offensive language. Consistent with our cooperative values, we proudly welcome and serve all members.
So the matter is now in the hands of the Board of Directors and they are expected to report back within days. No other details are available at this time.
Member comments focused on Mr. Oakley’s remarks and their meaning. Some viewed his remarks as inconsequential–a reflection of frontier values, or, out of a stated concern on Mr. Oakley’s part for the recent slaying of a San Antonio police officer, Benjamin Marconi. Many others, however, viewed his comments in the context of racism and lynching. Several employees, including some of color, spoke to the hurt and pain of Mr. Oakley’s Facebook remarks. Many called for Mr. Oakley to resign or be removed by the Board. Some were overcome emotionally by Mr. Oakley’s comments and at one point, in a display of support and solidarity, a group rose from the audience to surround the podium in support of their fellow speakers. Many in the audience rose as well.
Almost any witness to the meeting could say that an honest and frank conversation about race in America had occurred. There were differing points of view to be sure, but under the circumstances, the conversation was necessary and possibly cathartic. By any measure, yesterday was a historic day at PEC and in the annals of electric cooperative meetings.
I will attempt to link PEC’s own video stream of the meeting here: