They won in a landslide on the issue of mail-in voting, defeating the director-backed proposal 2,561 to 1,113 at Saturday’s special meeting of members.
They won despite the all-out push by EMC directors and management to gain member support through letters, robo-calls and even PTA e-newsletters urging approval of the proposal.
It was a resounding rejection of the incumbent directors by members willing to stand in line for hours to cast their votes at the meeting held at Piedmont Church. As reform leader Butch Thompson put it, “I think people have got the message.”
To latecomers, the idea of voting down mail-in balloting seems inconsistent with broader membership participation. But this is not the normal electric membership co-op situation. Reform leaders do favor mail-in voting in the future — after there has been a fair chance to vote out the holdover directors who long ago lost the confidence of the members and deserve to lose their jobs.
Thompson made the point before the voting began. He said approval of mail-in voting would mean “these directors will stay in office from now on.” Also on point was EMC member Thomas Loy who told the crowd: “I think most of us would like the convenience of voting by mail, but with the current provision and lawyer language on the ballots, I think it would end up in unfair elections.”
Reformers feared that if mail-in voting was approved, incumbent directors would use the full resources of the EMC to campaign for re-election, putting challengers at a huge disadvantage. The campaigning by management for the mail-in vote bylaw amendment certainly confirmed those fears.
Most unfortunately, Superior Court Judge Stephen Schuster failed to limit campaign spending by incumbents, something he clearly should revisit before the first round of elections for directors Nov. 12.
This sorry saga of EMC directors and ex-CEO Dwight Brown playing piggybank with the co-op’s money and resources is all too reminiscent of the situation in Washington. Time and again, elected leaders, in particular President Obama and the Democrats in Congress, have thumbed their noses at the people by passing legislation opposed by a majority — national healthcare, for example — and pursuing policies opposed by a majority. It’s still galling to remember how then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi told House members they had to pass the bill to find out what was in it.
That kind of arrogance is what gave rise to the tea party movement. People across this country got fed up with elected officials ignoring them or running roughshod over their interests, concerns and needs.
Cobb EMC directors have done likewise. They could have gotten the message after a lawsuit was filed by members charging mismanagement and fraud — followed by the criminal indictment of their CEO.
They did not, have not and clearly will not. There is only one remedy, and the stage was set Saturday: Vote every one of them out of office.