VEA Board Calls Special Membership Meeting

Valley Electric Association’s board of directors has called a special member meeting to address concerns over the board’s fiduciary responsibilities and the process of recalling members of Valley’s board, according to a news release from Valley.

The special meeting, pegged to occur following Valley’s annual meeting on April 27, is set to answer questions that have arisen on these topics, following the announcement by a members’ group on its intentions to recall Valley’s current board of directors in February, said Ken Derschan, president of Valley’s board of directors, in the news release.

“We have heard member concerns, and we are listening to what members say,” said Derschan in the news release. “Questions and comments revolving around the board’s fiduciary responsibilities and how a recall can occur have come up. Members have a right to elect board members, and they have the right to recall them. That process is spelled out in the bylaws. We want our members to hear firsthand about what being a fiduciary means and how a recall needs to be conducted in accordance with the bylaws and the articles of incorporation.”

The special meeting is set to occur at approximately 2 p.m. on April 27, following Valley’s annual meeting, at the high school. Registration for the annual meeting begins at 11 a.m. with that event getting underway at 1 p.m., also at the high school, according to Valley’s news release.

According to Valley’s release, it takes three board members to call for a special meeting, though all six of the current directors signed a notice to call for a special meeting at the end of April, following the annual meeting.

On another front, hundreds of area member-owners have signed a petition being circulated by organizers of VEA Members for Change, a members’ group that is working to remove several of Valley’s board of directors.

That action could occur at a special meeting that the group is working on calling via a petition of Valley’s members.

According to organizers for the group, new directors can be voted in by Valley’s members at the special meeting if any of the current directors are voted out at that meeting.

Members for Change was launched amid increased rates announced by Valley earlier in 2019 for its broadband customers and on energy rates for residential customers. The members’ group saw an influx in people signing the petition in light of allegations of a financial cover-up of sexual harassment at Valley and embezzlement.

Ken Johnson, an organizer for Members for Change and a former executive of Valley, said in prior interviews with a reporter from the Pahrump Valley Times that the group has put efforts into finding replacements for the current board should they be voted out during a special meeting.

Members for Change has not publicly named any potential replacements of Valley’s board of directors should the group be successful.

Organizers of VEA Members for Change have commented that Valley is not following the bylaws by not calling a special meeting of the membership following the group’s obtainment of a signature requirement under the bylaws.

The group surpassed what it said is a required number of signatures equating to 5 percent of Valley’s members and has asked Valley to schedule a special meeting, according to Johnson.

To start the process on removing any of the directors, VEA Members for Change has to obtain enough signatures equating to 10 percent of the membership; the 5 percent marker is to call the special meeting, according to organizers of Members for Change.

According to the Members for Change’s Facebook page, the effort has amassed just under 1,600 signatures. The group needs to collect enough signatures to match 10 percent of the membership. According to Members for Change’s social media page, that number is approximately 18,750.

Kathleen Keyes, who ran unopposed in Valley’s District 4 (Fish Lake Valley), for a seat on the board, is not listed on Members for Change’s petition.

A reporter from the Pahrump Valley Times reached out to Michael Hengel, vice president of corporate communications for Valley, on the upcoming special meeting, not connected to any action by Members for Change, that was recently called by Valley’s board and on other topics.

Hengel said Dick Peck, Valley’s interim chief executive, “has gone on record as saying that we have one interpretation of the bylaws. You’d have to ask them (VEA Members for Change) about their interpretation. According to our interpretation of it, there’s still some work to do.”

In Valley’s news release, Derschan was noted stating that Valley’s independent auditor, Lubbock, Texas-based Bolinger, Segars, Gilbert &Moss LLP will make a presentation on Valley’s 2018 audit. Representatives for the firm will also discuss the board’s fiduciary responsibility, according to Derschan.

Valley’s corporate counsel, Tammy Peterson of Peterson Baker PLLC, also plans to make a presentation on Valley’s bylaws and the “intricacies of a recall election,” Valley’s release stated.

“The bylaws and articles of incorporation are there to protect the cooperative and the members,” said Peck in Valley’s release. “If members wish to go down that road, that is their right. Everyone needs to follow the bylaws, however, or little will be accomplished.”

Lunch is set to be served prior to the annual meeting at the high school starting at 11:30 a.m. until the annual meeting begins at 1 p.m.

Several vehicles and items currently held by Valley will be auctioned off following the conclusion of the special meeting, according to the news release.

Vehicle auction

Valley Electric Association is planning to auction off 13 vehicles and two trailers following a special meeting at the end of April.

The auction will occur following the conclusion of Valley’s annual meeting and a subsequent special meeting at Pahrump Valley High School at 501 E. Calvada Blvd. on April 27.

“We have too many vehicles in our fleet, so it’s time to move them out,” said Valley’s Interim Chief Executive Dick Peck. “If a member needs a vehicle like one of the ones we have, this will be a good opportunity to get one at a good price.”

Valley is scheduled to start its annual meeting at 1 p.m. at the high school with a special meeting pegged to begin at 2 p.m. Following those meetings, the auction will get underway.

The auction includes late models cargo vans, along with vehicles from the mid-2000s and prior: trucks, SUVs and other “articles from Valley’s warehouse” will be included in the list of auction items, according to a press release from Valley.

Source: VEA board calls a special meeting


The case for a Republican governor in 2018 – California

(Photo above)Inspectors check the progress of the demolition of the storm-damaged Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge in Big Sur in March. The crumbling bridge along the California coast stranded residents in the area. California was unprepared for the drought, then, with the rainiest year on record, the inundation of water brought about failed roads, buckled bridges and a crater in the Lake Oroville spillway. Vern Fisher Monterey Herald
BY JIM BRULTE –  Special to The Bee  – APRIL 14, 2017 8:00 AM

One-party rule has ruined California.

California was once held up as the gold standard of progress and achievement. Previous generations built a great highway system connecting the coast to the Valley and the mountains beyond. Previous generations designed and built the State Water Project. This water infrastructure made cities in the desert flourish. Previous generations built a public education system that was the envy of the world.

When the political tide turned almost two decades ago and Democrats began their upward swing to the legislative supermajority they now enjoy, they were handed a California in great shape. The middle class was growing, student test scores were rising, and the welfare rate and crime rate were declining. But with each new election victory the Democrats claimed at the polls came a little less accountability and a little less transparency. California’s Capitol became an echo chamber filled with liberal elites who lost touch with the people and the many vital needs of our state.

Transportation funds got diverted away from roads, and water infrastructure was ignored regardless of our state’s growth. Felons were released from prisons, and we are now seeing the effects with a higher crime rate. Our educational system has become more focused on political correctness than student academic achievement.

We have 2.5 million children living in poverty while the Democrats have managed to take a balanced state budget and turn it into a deficit, even as they continue to raise taxes on all Californians. And this deficit exists in spite of the fact that we have taken most of the unfunded public pension and health care liability off budget!

The last two years have fully exposed the Democratic Party’s failures across California. Mother Nature ended a five-year drought, which California was completely unprepared for, with the rainiest year on record. This inundation of water brought about failed roads, buckled bridges and a crater in the Lake Oroville spillway. In addition to the failures in our transportation and water infrastructure, California state testing showed that not even half of our kids are ready for college.

The Democrats’ answer to these problems isn’t to assess and make changes; it’s to pickpocket the people of California for an even larger share of their paycheck. Rather than bringing much-needed reform to the state’s systematic problems, Democrats are just throwing money at the problems guaranteeing us much of the same. We need reform, we need changes, and we need accountability – none of which we are going to get with more of the same.

The Democrats broke it; they own it. Now is the time to shake up California’s downward decline, and the best way to do that is to elect a Republican governor in 2018.

Jim Brulte is the California Republican Party chairman. He can be contacted at senatorjimbrulte@cagop.org

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article144271104.html#storylink=cpy

Antioch Unified School District tables Burkholder Media proposal

The Antioch Unified School District Board has shelved a proposal by Superintendent Stephanie Anello, for Mike Burkholder, founder and publisher of the news website Eastcountytoday.net, to create a media platform, highlighting positive stories from the district. 

The idea, brought forth by Burkholder, an Oakley resident, called for the creation of a district news website and assistance with public outreach, as well as help with creating press releases and photography and implementing of a social-media strategy for $53,900 a year.

The board tabled the proposal last week after three of the district’s five board members expressed various concerns, and it became clear that the agreement wasn’t going to be approved. 

Anello said late last week she was unsure how she would proceed with the matter and didn’t know if another proposal would be brought forth in the future. 

The concerns of board members Walter Ruehlig, Debra Vinson and Crystal Sawyer-White centered on Burkholder’s conflict of interest as a local website publisher and former school-board candidate, lack of other bids for the work and the use of funds, which board members argued should be used for other purposes.

“I think a lot of us were stunned – I thought I had dirt in my eyes,” said Ruehlig, the board’s president. “Basically, my position is that the issue would have been problematic enough as is with all our other pressing district needs.”

Vinson declined to discuss the matter, because it is still ongoing, but said during the meeting that she had received phone calls expressing unease about the proposal.

“There is just a lot of concern,” she said. “A lot of people feel there is a conflict of interest.”

The three public speakers at the meeting all spoke against the proposal, touching on the perceived conflict of interest, Burkholder’s alleged verbal attack of one of his website’s readers and the desire to see the proposal’s funds go elsewhere.

Subsequent comments on social media reiterated public concerns.

“Glad to see Burkholder didn’t get the gig,” said Dave Roberts. “It was a crazy idea to spend so much money on such a negative person to put a positive face on a troubled district. Vinson is exactly right – it would do much more for the district’s image to spend that $53,900 to improve academic outcomes, rather than waste it on a flawed spin doctor.”

Anello said that the proposal had nothing to do with Burkholder’s website, Eastcountytoday.net, and that she didn’t seek other bids because the proposal was Burkholder’s own intellectual property, thus proprietary. She thought the proposal financially advantageous for the district, considering public-information officers in other districts usually cost about $125,000 a year when factoring in salary, benefits and a retirement package. 

“There are so many amazing students, employees and families in our district, doing fantastic things,” Anello said. “An AUSD media platform and an individual dedicated to highlighting their achievements would be a great benefit to the district and to the public at large.”

Burkholder said he was unsure if the district’s board or members of the public fully understood the proposal.

“If the proposal was better explained and they understood the benefits of all the components working together, I am confident it will move forward,” he said. “Following the decision, I’ve received a great deal of support from the community who could not understand why the board took no action. The comments were that they would like to see this type of service implemented by the school district and possibly by others, such as the City of Antioch.” 

According to the proposal, Burkholder would create a district website – using the EastCountytoday.net model – that would become ‘the single source for AUSD news and information.’ He would also work with the superintendent to identify positive stories or information that could be shared with the community, pitched to local media and shared on the district’s website and blog.

Burkholder said that undertaking such work wouldn’t be a conflict of interest.

“I do not see that there is a conflict of interest, because the content would be created by their stories, their photos and their comments,” he said. “They are not buying news, as some claim. They are creating their own and distributing information through platforms and processes created by Burkholder Media.”

Board member Diane Gibson-Gray, who believes the measure would have been approved if it had come from a different vendor or media outlet, said the district could benefit from increasing its online presence.

“I’ve often said that ‘absent information, people will make up their own,’ and this holds true for both positive and negative situations,” she said. “Building an AUSD community website, supported by social-media bundling, and building an audience will provide the opportunity to showcase positive stories, students, employees and more.”

view the complete proposal:

[pdf-embedder url=”http://dougknowles.com/wp-content/uploads/securepdfs/2017/02/Burkholder-Media-Group-Agreement.pdf” title=”Burkholder Media Group Agreement”]

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