As memory serves me, during the venting sessions conducted by the Cobb EMC Owners Association, of which I was a founding member, all the candidates except one who were elected directors stated they wanted Cobb EMC to be operated transparently. The exception was Ed Crowell, who was elected chairman at a time when the old directors of the Dwight Brown era constituted a majority. Mr. Crowell stated he favored some transparency but thought some Cobb EMC matters need not be disclosed to the general membership.
Several of the candidates said they wanted Cobb EMC to stop paying the attorney fees of ex-President Brown, who was under indictment for allegedly stealing millions of dollars from Cobb EMC. Some said they favored a” bill of rights” for Cobb EMC members.
What happened after the new directors took office? The directors sponsored bylaws by which neither a member nor the press has a right to examine Cobb EMC records.
For the first time in the history of Cobb EMC, a member has no right by himself or herself to offer a bylaw or resolution for adoption by the membership.
Even if 36 members cosponsor a bylaw, the directors can refuse to send a copy to the general membership to read and study along with the notice a meeting will be held. Unless a copy is sent to the membership along with the notice calling the membership meeting, the members will not be allowed to vote on the proposed bylaw.
Last year, I proposed a Members’ Bill of Rights bylaw. It provided true transparency as is required of school boards, city council meetings, county commission meetings, and of the Georgia General Assembly. Under it, the press and members have a right to examine Cobb EMC records. Voting is by secret ballot and a member can vote in person at a meeting or by mail-in ballot. It prevents Cobb EMC from paying the attorney fees of an officer or director who has been indicted by the Grand Jury for stealing money from Cobb EMC.
From the time Cobb EMC was formed until last year the bylaws required a copy of members’ proposals be sent to all the members along with the letter notifying members a meeting would be held. Last year, those in power chose to violate that bylaw and not send a copy to all members. However, a copy of the directors’ sponsored bylaws was sent to all.
After I discovered the bylaw violation, John Moore, the attorney for Cobb EMC, in a letter to me said Chairman Crowell and President Chip Nelson knew I had not abandoned the Cobb EMC Members’ Bill of Rights proposal, but thought I wanted to delay presenting it.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Never at any time did I state, hint or ever suggest I wanted to delay presenting the proposal. At that time I was 87 years old, had experienced two heart attacks, was diabetic, required hearing aids, suffered from high blood pressure and had thyroid, kidney and prostrate problems. I did not want to wait another year.
I believe the true reason the bylaw was violated was because Crowell and Nelson really do not want transparency and were afraid that if 175,000 EMC members received a copy of the Bill of Rights many would read and study it, then attend the 2012 members’ meeting and adopt the Bill of Rights bylaw. Unfortunately, with less than one half of one percent of the members voting in 2012, the Bill of Rights proposal was voted on as an amendment to the old bylaws and defeated.
This year, I and 46 members have co-sponsored the Bill of Rights bylaw proposal. This was done well within 100 days of the Sept. 14, 2013 Annual Meeting. Will the directors allow the general membership to receive a copy and vote on it at the September meeting?
Cobb EMC member