The newly appointed President and CEO of Cobb EMC, Chip Nelson, has proclaimed that under his administration a “new day” will exist. He states his policy will be to provide transparency in the operation of Cobb EMC which was never allowed during the Dwight Brown administration.
That is welcome news. I am convinced he means what he says. However, I cannot forget that he was, from an operational standpoint, the right hand man of Dwight Brown for the past seven years.
As the chief operations officer, he was not in a policy-making position. He was responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of our cooperative. Thanks to him and the employees of Cobb EMC, electricity was dispensed 24 hours every day to almost 200,000 customer/owners.
Almost, without exception, it is agreed that the morale and job performance of the Cobb EMC employees is exceptional. Much of this can be attributed to the manner Nelson did his job as chief operations officer. He is a good choice to be CEO of Cobb EMC.
Even if Nelson wants a member-friendly, transparent Cobb EMC, there is no guarantee he can produce what he wants. It is the board of directors which makes the policy decisions by which the company operates, not the CEO. Of course, that is not to say that a domineering CEO (such as Dwight Brown) cannot have such influence over the board that they blindly adopt the policies he wants adopted.
However, the ultimate power of Cobb EMC is vested in the members who are the sole owners of Cobb EMC. We can enact a bylaw which I call the “Cobb EMC Members’ Bill of Rights.” This bylaw, if enacted cannot be repealed, amended or changed by the board. The dictates contained therein must be followed by the board and all officers of Cobb EMC.
Among the rights contained therein is the right of members and the press to have access to almost all of the records of Cobb EMC and to attend all meetings of the board of directors. No longer will Cobb EMC have to pay the litigation expenses and attorney fees of an officer or director who a grand jury has indicted for stealing money from Cobb EMC.
An officer cannot arrange for himself a zero percent loan from Cobb EMC which never has to be repaid. Dwight Brown is reported to have obtained for himself a $3 million zero-interest loan which never had to be repaid.
Last Monday, Nelson met with me. At that time, I gave him a copy of the proposed “Cobb EMC Members’ Bill of Rights.” He did not commit himself to fully support all of the provisions, but said he wanted transparency in the operation of Cobb EMC. We also discussed when the “Bill of Rights” could be put before the membership for a vote. He suggested Feb. 18, at which time we will hold the much-delayed 2009 Annual Meeting to elect three new members to the board of directors.
In a perfect world, it would not be necessary for the members to enact a “Bill of Rights” bylaw such as I have drafted. But we do not live in a perfect world.
Even if we are able to replace, with good men, what I consider to be the worst EMC board of directors in Georgia, we still need to adopt a “Members’ Bill of Rights.” The abuse which occurred during the Dwight Brown administration must never be repeated.
If anyone wants a copy of the proposed “Members’ Bill of Rights,” email me at fandkt