Letter calls on REC to restore candidate speeches at annual meeting

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.

4 thoughts on “Letter calls on REC to restore candidate speeches at annual meeting

  1. What were the talley numbers for each candidate & how many blank …if they even revealed that info.?

    1. Until last year REC never revealed the vote tally, but you could get it if you knew to ask and signed a form agreeing to pay damages and fines for “unauthorized use.” When we launched Repower REC we pointed out how absurd that was. It took several months, but eventually REC agreed to post the tallies on its website. You can find the 2019 tally here: https://www.myrec.coop/content-documents/2019%20Final%20Tally.pdf One of the reform candidates, John Manzari, won the non-blank-proxy vote this year, but he didn’t get enough votes to overcome the 2700+ vote advantage given to incumbents with blank proxies.

      1. Wow, that is so deceitful and undemocratic that they were doing that! Thank you so much for getting them to change that and I hope that I and my husband can add 2 more voices to getting blank voting cards eliminated. Is there somewhere that I can find an email to write letters to the members directing them to get rid of blank votes and other unfair practices? I’m coming to this a little late but I think I read somewhere that they were supposed to create a documents page…somewhere?…on the SmartHub? I had looked around for it but it’s not easy to find that I could see. Being able to contact members should be very easy to find as it is such an important part of a democracy to have ALL voices heard… or this case any voice. Next time there is a vote I will be bringing up these issues on my community website Nextdoor to let them know of these unfair practices. 🙁 Thank you.

      2. Natalie, please get in touch by email to info@repowerrec.com and we can discuss how you can help. To see docs on REC website go to MyREC.coop and then about us and then document center and governance center.

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