EMC meeting first in years sans elections
by Kim Isaza
September 14, 2012 12:43 AM | 3111 views | 4 4 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
 Ed Crowell, Chairman of the Cobb EMC Board of Directors
Ed Crowell, Chairman of the Cobb EMC Board of Directors
MARIETTA — Cobb EMC leaders say they have no idea how many of the 174,000 members will turn out on Saturday for the members meeting, the first in years not to feature any director elections.

But the new board of directors, all 10 of whom have been elected since November, has proposed a new set of bylaws that they will ask members to approve when they gather at Piedmont Church, 570 Piedmont Road in east Cobb, at 10 a.m. Saturday. Registration begins at 8 a.m., and members will need to show photo ID to register.

The proposed bylaws include some efforts to improve transparency and member participation within the nonprofit electric membership cooperative, including allowing members to attend board meetings and to allow future voting by mail and electronic ballot.

“We don’t really know what the turnout will be since this is the first annual meeting we’ve had in awhile that doesn’t involve elections of directors,” said Mark Justice, the company’s associate vice president of community relations.

Members have gathered three times in the past year, and turnout dwindled at each meeting, all of which featured contested votes. Last Sept. 17, when members came together for the first time since 2008 to decide a court-ordered question of mail-in ballots, turnout was 3,688 of the 174,000 members, or 2 percent. After that, director elections in November and March both saw turnout around 1 percent.

Although the March 31 elections also included two runoff races, the proposed bylaws still demand that candidates get a majority — 50 percent plus one vote — to win a seat on the board of directors.

Board chairman Ed Crowell said the directors agreed no one should become a director without getting a majority.

“If we went with a plurality, we could have a situation where 70 percent or even more of the voting members would vote against a candidate, but there could be so many folk running that that candidate might still be the winner with only 25 percent or 30 percent of the vote.

“Even though it could conceivably mean more cost if there was a runoff election, overall we believe it is better for the long-term success of Cobb EMC to ensure that each director is put in place by a majority of those who vote,” Crowell said.

On other issues, Justice confirmed that Cobb EMC and its insurers are still covering the cost of criminal defense for indicted former CEO Dwight Brown. The company has spent a total of $1.9 million to date, and has been reimbursed just over half that amount from its insurers.

The company is not paying Brown’s legal bills in his bid to win $1.8 million in consulting fees from the company.

Utility leaders had also been previously criticized for its many high-priced consultants, among them J.W. Rayder, who testified in May 2011 that he was paid about $30,000 per month as chairman of the management committee of Gas South and also billed Cobb EMC $40,000 to $50,000 per month in consulting fees, at a rate of $400 per hour. Gas South is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cobb EMC.

“J.W. Rayder is still working on contract evaluations as part of the Cobb EMC RFP for power supply,” Justice said in an email this week. “J.W. Rayder is not working with Gas South.”

As for how much Rayder has been paid by Cobb EMC or any of its related entities since Jan. 1, Justice said, “The figures are not available at this time.”

Justice also could not say how much consultant Anis Sherali has been paid since Jan. 1.

“Anis is an employee of Energy Consulting Group which is owned by (Cooperative Energy Inc.) CEI,” Justice said. “ECG does engineering work for CEI. CEI is the (GSOC) Georgia System Operation Corporation scheduling group of which we are currently a member. We have given the required official announcement that we are exiting that group.”

The Journal reported last week that the Marietta law firm of Moore, Ingram, Johnson and Steele would be replacing the retiring Bob Silliman as the utility’s general counsel.

Silliman “is paid a monthly retainer, he receives a per diem for attending Board and Committee meetings and he is paid an hourly rate for other work he is asked to do for the company,” said Robert D. Steele, the utility’s chief financial officer.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
September 14, 2012
Same song, second verse--and WHY must we hear from Ed Crowell again and again? Let's hear from other board members. Everyone knows Ed wants the old style cronism with certain board members and Chip Nelson, et. al. in control thus eliminating sun shining in the boarde room.

As for the by-laws--why were they not reviewed by the membership long before they were to be submitted for a vote tomorrow--it's disgusting! They had the old Dwight Brown by-law attorneys from the past do these by-laws. Does anyone actually think they are going to favor the members?

Not knowing Rayder's salary is just another example of keeping information from the owners.

And why don't the by-laws provide for the member/ownders to review the books? That would reveal too much information, wouldn't it?

Once again we'll have the employees who are EMC members coming to block vote again as they did in the past.

If you're a member, please come vote tomorrow.
In Agreement
September 14, 2012

It is good that Cobb has responded to at least some of issues raised by the readers. But come on now!

Mark Justice doesn't know how much Rayder or Sherali has been paid since Jan 1 in a statement prepared for the press? How are we to believe any Cobb's financials if they can't run a simple query into their accounting database? Or maybe they're still being compensated through an elaborate web of affiliates and subsidiaries so the money can't be traced.

Why is Rayder evaluating power contracts? He's not a CPA, power supply engineer, accredited financial analyst or economist with deep experience in wholesale energy markets, or attorney. He's none of these; he's just Brownies crony.

Why continued silence on the relationship between Cobb EMC and EDF Trading NA formerly Eagle Energy; the company formed by Brown's buddy that has been getting no bid contracts with Cobb EMC for power supply for years? Is Rayder evaluating their next contract? LOL!

We need the forensic audit to begin ASAP.

Pat H
September 14, 2012
Mr. Crowell, we own that company and demand that you KNOW how much Raydar is paid. If you don't then resign and let someone who will not cower from management still in place since Dwight Brown.

It is not a new day at Cobb EMC, it is the same old team, same old probably overpaid employees, same old management who do not have the transparency we need.
Cobb EMC Member
September 14, 2012
The Cobb EMC Board is owned by EMC management and employess who elected themselves this board.

Where is the accountability, where is the transparency and when will the rates for electricity and gas be competitive with other nearby EMC's ?
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