Today REC reform candidates Andrea Miller, Mike Biniek, and Jack Manzari sent a letter to the Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC). The letter asks REC to restore time for candidate speeches during next week’s annual meeting. REC announced this change to candidates via a letter to board candidates. Not allowing for candidate speeches limits the ability of member-owners who attend the meeting to make an informed choice.
REC’s decision to cancel candidate speeches this year is another example of the lack of transparency and accountability with which REC often operates.
The board denied three co-op members’ right to start a petition that would allow for a vote on changes to the bylaws that govern how REC and its board operate. These changes would make board elections more fair and give member-owners a clearer understanding of how the electric cooperative is spending our money.
We’ve also been disheartened to learn that REC employees are soliciting on-the-spot, uninformed proxy votes from cooperative members who visit REC offices to pay their monthly bill. This practice encourages the signing of blank proxies and stacks the deck in favor of incumbent board candidates. Urging a member-owner to vote with little or no information about the candidates greatly increases the likelihood they will sign a blank proxy just to be entered to win a prize. The REC board’s unusual practice is to treat blank proxies as a delegation of the member’s vote to the board itself. In practice, this provides incumbent candidates with a 3,000-plus vote leg up in the election. No wonder well-paid board members often stay on the board for 35 to 40 years or more.
If you are an REC member-owner who has not yet voted, there’s still time to take action to reform our co-op. You can do so through your online account through Monday, August 19 at 5 p.m. Vote for Andrea Miller, Mike Biniek, and Jack Manzari to restore accountability to our electric cooperative.