CEO R.B. Sloan resigns, effective March 15, 2013

From the Austin American Statesman:

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/pedernales-electric-ceo-resigns/nWMDk/

“After two years at the helm, R.B. Sloan has tendered his resignation as CEO of Pedernales Electric Cooperative, the cooperative’s board said Monday.

Sloan’s resignation will be effective March 15, and chief financial officer Frank Skube will serve as interim CEO until a new leader is chosen, according to a written statement from Kathy Scanlon, PEC board president.

Sloan was named CEO of Pedernales — the nation’s largest member-owned electric utility with more than 200,000 members — in February of 2011. His appointment came in the wake of a a years-long scandal at Pedernales that involved excessive salaries, questionable spending and undemocratic procedures.”

There has been some speculation and some finger pointing, of course.  We’ll see what we can find out.

2013 PEC Elections – Nomination Petitions available next week.

Yes, it’s warming up to Election season already.

Nomination petitions are available starting on January 22nd at PEC’s website, and are due in to PEC headquarters by Early April.

Districts 4, and 5 are up this year.  That’s Oak Hill/Dripping Springs, and Johnson City/Blanco/Bulverde areas to us normal people.

We haven’t gotten wind of any challengers who are planning to toss their hats in the ring yet this year, but we’re pretty sure at least one of the incumbents will be running again.  What have y’all heard?  Let us know on the Watchdogs list!

2012 Election Season

Just in case you forgot, we’re entering our annual election season.  This is the “big one”, with three districts up for election.

Nomination petitions have been available at PEC’s website since mid-January, and are due in to PEC headquarters by close of business on April 9th.

A minimum of 100 signatures are required.  I’d suggest getting 50% more, as they will be verified.  It can’t hurt to be safe.

Districts 1, 6, and 7 are up this year.  That’s Patrick Cox, Larry Landaker, and Christi Clement to us normal people.

We’ve gotten wind of two challengers who are planning to toss their hats in the ring.  What have y’all heard?  Let us know on the Watchdogs list!

 

2012 PEC Election Timeline

  • Jan. 18Nomination-by-petition materials available.
  • April 9 — Deadline to submit completed petition materials.
  • April 12 — Candidate orientation (Johnson City headquarters); outlines for verified candidates the role, responsibilities and expectations of the Board of Directors.
  • April 16 — Candidates officially announced.
  • Five “meet the candidates” events  — Events where Board candidates communicate their credentials, experience and views to members. The events will be held at PEC headquarters (May 3) and the following PEC district offices: Kyle (May 15); Bertram (May 16); Marble Falls (June 5) and Canyon Lake (June 6).
  • May 9 — Deadline for mailing ballots and candidate biographies to members; online voting begins.
  • June 15 — Online and mail-in voting ends.
  • June 23 — PEC Annual Meeting at the Hays CISD Performing Arts Center in Kyle; in-person voting, election winners announced.

Wow.  Read that again:  the Annual meeting will NOT be at the ex-River Palace this year.   And there will be FIVE meet the candidates events, four of which will outside Johnson City.

2011 Election Results

The results are in!  Final vote counts:

District 2: 
Yore 9528
Boggs 9733

District 3: 
Scanlon 9846
Gress 3323 
Weldon 2759
Thomas 2585

At large 8122
Single member districts 6400
Hybrid 4212

Demond found more guilty than Bennie

This article first appeared in the Austin American Statesman

Former Pedernales lawyer sentenced to jail, fine

Demond gets tougher penalty than co-op’s ex-chief.

BOERNE — A Kendall County jury on Tuesday found former Pedernales Electric Cooperative attorney Walter Demond guilty of felony theft, money laundering and misapplication of fiduciary property for helping arrange secret payments of co-op money to relatives of Pedernales officials.

The jury sentenced Demond, 63, to 10 years of probation and a $10,000 fine. State District Judge Dan Mills also gave Demond 500 days in jail — 100 days a year for five years — and imposed $212,000 in restitution. The money will be paid to Demond’s former law firm, Clark, Thomas & Winters, which ceased operations earlier this year.

Demond’s attorney Rip Collins declined to comment, saying he planned to appeal.

His other attorney, Gerry Morris, had asked the jury to sentence his client to probation, citing his age, lack of a criminal record and the fact that he did not take the secret payments himself. He also said that Demond’s career was finished and “his reputation is gone.”

“One thing you can rest assured: Mr. Demond will never practice law again,” Morris said.

Prosecutor Harry White argued against probation, telling the jury that as a lawyer, Demond should have known better.

“If we allow Mr. Demond to just get probation, what is the message being sent?” White asked. “That you can be the lawyer to large electric companies  and if you violate that duty, if you steal from a client, that’s not a big deal.”

Demond received a harsher sentence than the one given to former Pedernales General Manager Bennie Fuelberg by a Blanco County jury in February. Fuelberg got five years of probation, including 300 days in jail, and is appealing his sentence.

Demond was convicted of one first-degree felony — theft — and two second-degree felonies — money laundering and misapplication of fiduciary property. Fuelberg was convicted of lesser, third-degree versions of those charges.

“I think the evidence develops differently in different cases,” White said. “The jury decided Mr. Demond had a greater responsibility.”

Both men were prosecuted for their roles in arranging about $700,000 in secret payments of co-op money to relatives of former Pedernales executives. The payments went through Clark Thomas, which represented the co-op for decades.

Prosecutors say Demond inflated legal bills sent from the law firm to Pedernales between 1996 and 2007. That money secretly paid thousands of dollars per month to lobbyist Curtis Fuelberg, the brother of Bennie Fuelberg, and Bill Price, an attorney and the son of former co-op board member E.B. Price.

During the trial, Demond denied criminal wrongdoing and attributed many of his actions to following Bennie Fuelberg’s orders. Prosecutors never called Fuelberg to the witness stand. His attorney said that if they did, Fuelberg would use his Fifth Amendment right not to testify.

Jurors began deliberations Thursday morning but went home without a verdict and returned on Tuesday after the Memorial Day holiday. Demond and his attorneys showed little emotion when the jury issued its verdict.

Unlike Fuelberg’s trial, where defense attorneys called a long list of character witnesses, including his wife and neighbors, during the sentencing phase, Demond’s attorneys called no one. Morris told the jury that was because many witnesses had already attested to Demond as “an honorable man, a good lawyer, a leader among his peers.”

Before leaving the law firm in 2009 , Demond headed Clark Thomas’ energy section and was Pedernales’ top outside lawyer. He was described in court as a close friend of Fuelberg’s; the latter served as a best man at Demond’s wedding, and the two owned a hunting lease together.

The trial’s outcome caps a years-long saga at Pedernales, the nation’s largest electric cooperative, with more than 200,000 members.

Beginning in 2007 with a member-led lawsuit and investigative reports in the American-Statesman, the co-op was dogged by scandals related to questionable business dealings, closed-door practices and excessive spending. Its officials were called on the carpet by legislative bodies in Austin and Washington.

Today, Pedernales is run by a new CEO and directors who have enacted a number of reforms. All have said they are eager to put the Fuelberg era behind them.

Clark Thomas wasn’t so lucky. The affair cast a cloud over what was once Austin’s largest and oldest continually operating law firm, and it was one of the factors blamed for the firm’s demise in April, along with a tough economy. Most of its attorneys left to work elsewhere.

“This verdict should send a chill through the spine of all corporate lawyers,” Pedernales board President Larry Landaker said Tuesday. “General counsel has a higher duty to the law and the corporation’s shareholders. It is not an acceptable defense to say that ‘I was following orders of management or the board.

pgeorge@statesman.com; 512-392-8750

2011 Endorsements

Hi folks,

It’s election time!   As we have for the past several years, PEC4U’s steering committee discussed the pros and cons of the candidates and the voting issue.  And as in past years, there are some tough choices to make.  Here are this year’s endorsements:

District 2 – William Boggs

District 3 – Kathy Scanlon

Voting Method – At Large

But as always, we encourage you to think for yourselves, examine the details, and then get out and vote!  See our Candidates Forum to discuss the pros and cons of the candidates and the voting method issue, and see the recent discussions regarding voting method in the archives of our Watchdogs email discussion list.   (You can join those discussions here.)

PEC’s election overview.

Online voting

Fraser cites activists’ letter as proof of unfair elections at PEC

We’re in the press again….

<http://www.statesman.com/news/texas-politics/fraser-cites-activists-letter-as-proof-of-unfair-1441517.html?cxtype=rss_ece_frontpage>

A couple of gems from the article:

“Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, said it has become nearly impossible for anyone to get elected to the board without PEC4U’s funding and support. He points to former candidates like auto dealer Chuck Nash, who were well-financed and had name recognition but lost, Fraser claims, because he lacked endorsements from the group.”

First off, it is far less impossible to get on the Board than it was during the Fuelberg/Burnett regime, when it was absolutely impossible for anyone outside the cabal.  These days a couple hundred signatures on a petition will get you on the ballot.  Being a better choice than the other candidates will give you a good shot at getting elected.

Perhaps Sen. Fraser’s fair-haired boy Chuck Nash wasn’t elected because there were better candidates to choose from?   That’s certainly why PEC4U didn’t endorse him. Maybe he didn’t do a good job of campaigning despite whatever money he threw in that direction.  I certainly never heard a peep from Mr Nash’s “well-financed” campaign.  How much did he spend?  Was it anything near the $300,000 Fraser now claims is needed to run a campaign for PEC Board?

“Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, said it has become nearly impossible for anyone to get elected to the board without PEC4U’s funding and support.”

Senator Fraser, I invite you to find PEC4U’s funding.  I quote from our “Who is PEC4U?” page (which has been in place for several years):  “Funding? There is none. There’s no formal organization as yet, no mailing address, no bank account.”  And we have no plans for any of those.  If you happen to find any PEC4U funding, please let us know – we’d love to be reimbursed for our voluntary efforts over the last several years.

As far as PEC4U’s support throwing the election one way or another, that remains to be seen.  You could just as easily place the responsibility for election of the current crop of Board members on the Austin American-Statesman, who helped bring awareness of the corrupt politics of the Fuelberg/Burnett regime and likely motivated a large number of reform-minded votes.

 

Former PEC boss Fuelberg to appeal conviction

originally published By Patrick George , AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF April 20 in the Statesman

Fuelberg, convicted in December, is also seeking not to testify in the second PEC-related trial of attorney Walter Demond

Two months after saying he wouldn’t appeal his conviction on felony theft and money laundering charges, former Pedernales Electric Cooperative general manager Bennie Fuelberg has changed his tune.

Fuelberg’s attorney Chris Gunter said Tuesday he has filed a motion for a new trial with State District Judge Dan Mills ‘ court. He said he expects the judge to deny that motion, in which case he will proceed with an appeal.

Fuelberg, who ran the nation’s largest member-owned electric utility for more than 30 years, was convicted in December of third degree theft, money laundering and misapplication of fiduciary property. He received a probated sentence that includes 300 days to be served in the Blanco County jail, beginning in June.

Gunter said Fuelberg is not on probation currently, and any jail time he might face will be put on hold during the appeal.

Gunter said Fuelberg also does not plan to testify at the trial of Walter Demond , the former outside attorney for Pedernales, who faces trial in May on the same charges. The state attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the Pedernales cases, is seeking an order granting Fuelberg limited immunity in exchange for his testimony against Demond.

“We have made it known to the AG that we do not intend to testify for either side,” Gunter said. Fuelberg may invoke his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, Gunter said.

Fuelberg went on trial for his role in secret payments made to his brother, lobbyist Curtis Fuelberg, and Bill Price, the son of a former Pedernales board member, through Clark, Thomas & Winters, the co-op’s now-defunct former law firm, where Demond was a partner.

The jury acquitted Fuelberg on the charges related to his brother, but convicted him on the payments to Price and sentenced him to probation.

Mills gave Fuelberg the option of reducing his jail time by accepting responsibility for his crime — including waiving his right to appeal — and testifying against Demond. On February 11, Gunter said his client would accept that deal.

They changed their minds, Gunter said, after reviewing Mills’ rulings during the trial.

“We decided that but for a few of the judge’s rulings, the jury would have acquitted Mr. Fuelberg,” he said.

In particular, Gunter pointed to Mills’ ruling that allowed former Clark Thomas partner David Duggins to testify about what Fuelberg knew about the payments to his brother and Price. Duggins said Demond — also a former Clark Thomas partner — told him that Fuelberg directed payments of co-op money to Price and Fuelberg’s brother.

Gunter on Tuesday said that testimony was “double hearsay” and was the only evidence in the trial that indicated Fuelberg knew about the secret payments to Price.

Pedernales officials in March sought to revoke Fuelberg’s pension from the co-op, but their lawyers advised them that such a move was unlikely to succeed. Fuelberg collects payments of more than $12,000 a month from his pension plan, co-op officials have said.

pgeorge@statesman.com; 512-392-8750

 

 

Green Dreams next showing

We had fun at the premier showing of Green Dreams, a 50 minute documentary about the revolution at the Pedernales Electric Cooperative last night at the Uptown Marble Theater in Marble Falls.

The next (free) showing of Green Dreams will be:

Monday, April 18th, 8PM

Rocky River Ranch
Corral Theater

100 Flite Acres Road
Wimberley. TX

Hope to see you there!

Green Dreams at Corral Theater, Wimberley

View Larger Map

2011 Election Timeline

  • April 18 — Planned announcement of candidates.
  • April 28 — Candidate forum held at PEC headquarters in Johnson City and streamed live online; a public forum where Board candidates communicate their credentials, experience and views to members.
  • May 4 — Voting begins.
  • June 10 — Online and mail-in voting closes.
  • June 18 — PEC Annual Meeting (Training Center, Johnson City); in-person voting, election winners announced.