First, take the issue of the candidacy of Tripper Sharp, among 11 contenders for the Area 5 seat. Sharp was one of the plaintiffs who filed suit in 2007 against the EMC, charging breech of fiduciary duty, abuse of control, gross mismanagement, waste of corporate assets and unjust enrichment.
When Sharp entered the race, fellow plaintiff Butch Thompson objected, saying he “would rather a plaintiff not be a part of it.” He pointed out that plaintiffs in the derivative lawsuit could not receive any financial gains, but if Sharp wins election “then he would be gaining financially as well.” Sharp countered that despite the reforms the plaintiffs had gained, “there’s a lot more to do, and I’d like to be on the board to finish the job.”
On that issue, each side has a point. From my perspective, Thompson has the higher moral ground, and Sharp would have been well advised to forgo running if only for the sake of precluding criticism that his motive from the start was a director’s seat. On the other hand, it’s a stretch to contend that Sharp should not run for the seat because he was a plaintiff, that somehow this would be a “takeover” of the EMC. Indeed, as Sharp argues, who is better qualified than a plaintiff?
Then there’s the controversy over vetting of candidates by the Cobb EMC Owners Association of which both Sharp and Thompson were organizers. Feelings erupted after EMC CEO Chip Nelson and some EMC employees who are also co-op members showed up and voted on endorsements at the meetings. That was too much for Sharp who said, “It appears to me that the CEOA has been hijacked by the management of Cobb EMC.” He went so far as to say, “the CEOA endorsement now is simply the management’s stamp of approval.” Dianne Brackin, another plaintiff, agreed.
Sharp subsequently failed to win the association’s endorsement at last Tuesday night’s meeting. He told the Journal he came in second with 55 votes behind Charles Sevier and again said the endorsements were “an orchestrated effort by EMC management” — which CEO Nelson denied.
Butch Thompson rejected the hijacking charge and defended the right of EMC employee-members to take part in the endorsements. He said, “EMC employees have more at stake right now than anybody” and they should “be recognized as the good employees that they are.” He said he didn’t think the employees stacked the deck.
On that issue, employees who are EMC members have the right to be involved in the vetting process, same as employees who own stock in the company they work for. The elections come down to a very simple fact: EMC members should do their own vetting and vote accordingly for the best qualified candidates — regardless of any endorsement or lack thereof.