[Watchdogs] Compensation for Board Members
clemoore at nctv.com
Mon Sep 13 11:57:02 CDT 2010
I'm the spouse of Board Secretary-Treasurer Cristi Clement. Some of you may
think my position on compensation for board members is prejudiced, but I
still want to offer some thoughts for you to chew on.
1. Considering the way PEC was managed until June 30, serving as a
board member was essentially a more than fulltime job for several of the
directors, Cristi included. As a member-owner who attends every board
meeting and several committee meetings, there is no doubt in my mind that
PEC still suffers from a large number of ills. It's apparent that several
PEC employees are reluctant to change their habits; some managers want to
spend money needlessly and foolishly. It takes far too long for some
managers to complete important tasks they've been assigned by the board.
Until PEC streamlines itself into a true business operation, conscientious
directors must spend long hours reading, analyzing and writing papers.
It's hard work and the directors deserve to be fairly compensated for their
2. This is the first full board (7 members) to be elected by the
members-owners at large. Their compensation is considerably less than what
board members were receiving prior to June 2008. And, board members
received health insurance for themselves and their spouses! Presently,
director compensation is not the highest nor the lowest in the electrical
cooperatives world and there's no more free health insurance. Bennie
Fuelberg was totally in charge of PEC; the board worked for him instead of
him working for the board, as it was supposed to be. Therefore, directors
really didn't have much to do, other than rubberstamp all of Fuelberg's
Members of this board have made some tough decisions: Going after people
who won't pay their bills (Opposing the plan, Juan Garza stated "we'll be
spending dollars chasing pennies."); Forcing PEC to adopt an annual budget
(Juan Garza acted as if that was one of his lowest priorities); Attempting
to get management to inch closer to industry averages in employees per
meter, operating costs per meter
(Juan Garza claimed such actions would impact on service reliability, and is
rumored to have said "Cristi Clement wants me to fire 300 employees.").
Does anyone remember Garza publicly stating that he'd assured PEC employees
their jobs were assured as long as they didn't steal from the company or lie
about their actions? He simply overlooked such things as efficiency and
good management of resources. Garza attempted to introduce servant-leader
style management; he hired Steve Lucas to teach employees the basics, he set
them up on the PEC campus and then remodeled the training center to
accommodate the team and then allowed a building on the PEC campus to be
remodeled as the team's final home, all of which turned into a dollars down
the drain endeavor
3. Perhaps the toughest decision the directors have had to make during
the past two years came in June when they voted (5 for, 2 opposed) to fire
Juan Garza. It was the right decision, made at the right time and-from what
I observed during committee and board meetings-for the right reasons. Some
people (including a state senator and a state legislator) insinuate the
action was forced by the two old guard members R.B. Felps and O.C. Harmon,
and that it was a million dollar blunder. Baloney! I don't believe either
man played an active role in Garza's firing, but I could sense Felps'
growing discontent with Garza by observing him during board meetings. And,
how did the senator and legislator arrive at their conclusions; neither man
has ever attended a board or committee meeting that I can recall.
Also, I wonder why the senator kept his silence when Bennie Fuelberg was so
blatantly mismanaging the co-op? Fuelberg was a very powerful man. Was the
senator afraid of what might happen to him politically or-heaven
forbid-physically if he locked horns with Bennie? Or, could he have been in
Seriously, serving as a PEC director is a tough, time-consuming job and it
will remain that way for a few years to come. Probably every member of the
board never seriously considered compensation when they threw their hats
into the ring. I think each of them looks at PEC as a cooperative that had
drifted away from its true purpose of providing electricity to its
member-owners efficiently and at low cost. Messing with their compensation
seems to put the coop on a road to where only people with lots of money and
lots of time on their hands would ever consider serving on the board. That
would essentially return PEC to the bygone days of good old boy stewardship.
We don't want that!
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