It took the Board of Directors of PEC eight long tumultuous weeks to take action on Board Vice President James Oakley’s “time for a tree and a rope” comments he made on his personal Facebook page last November. At yesterday’s PEC board meeting the board voted 6-0 in favor of a resolution removing Mr. Oakley as a board officer. He will remain on the board and will continue to receive full compensation as a director.
A fair summary of yesterday’s meeting was reported in the Austin American-Statesman:
In taking this action the board acknowledged recommendations made by a special complaint committee comprised of board president Emily Pataki and directors Paul Graf and Kathy Scanlon. Their report acknowledged Mr. Oakley’s First Amendment constitutional right to free speech. It also suggested that Mr. Oakley “must have a heightened sense of awareness regarding his personal and public activities…and has cast certain unfavorable light to PEC’s goodwill and brand and has apparently caused a negative impact to PEC’s otherwise high employee morale.”
Among other things the committee recommended that Mr. Oakley be issued a warning to “thoughtfully guard his public and personal actions” and that “no member or employee should be subject to any actual, or perceived act of retaliation for their individual input into the Cooperative’s review of this matter.” Retaliation is strictly prohibited under PEC policy. Finally, “In the best interests of the Cooperative…the Board of Directors should replace Director Oakley as Vice President of the Board, effectively removing him from his leadership position on the Board.