UPDATE: On Dec. 8, Don Richards, special counsel to the Pedernales Electric Cooperative complaint committee and board, released a statement in regard to the committee’s investigation of a complaint about a Facebook post by PEC District 5 director James Oakley. Richards stated the “committee does its work and reports its findings to the board. The board will make the final decision on the matter. The board can agree, disagree, or amend the committee’s recommendation.” The report will be included in an upcoming PEC board of director’s packet, but not necessarily the next one, which will be the first time it’s available to the public as well. The next board meeting is Dec. 19 at 9 a.m.
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Scanlon called Oakley a “terrible person” instead of “dishonorable man.” DailyTrib.com regrets the error.
DANIEL CLIFTON • EDITOR
JOHNSON CITY — Pedernales Electric Cooperative District 5 director James Oakley will have to wait at least another day to learn his fate for a controversial comment he made on his Facebook page. A committee assigned to recommend a possible punishment couldn’t reach a decision during a meeting Dec. 7.
The three-person committee charged with investigating any possible wrongdoing by Oakley and coming up with a punishment recommendation met at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday to discuss the issue. The committee consists of PEC board of directors president Emily Pataki and directors Kathy Scanlon and Paul Graf.
The issue came about after a Nov. 21 post by Oakley, who is also the Burnet County judge, on his personal Facebook page in regard to the arrest of an African-American man for the alleged murder of San Antonio Police Department Detective Benjamin Marconi just a few days earlier.
Oakley posted that it was “time for a tree and a rope” under a photo of the suspect, Otis Tyrone McKane. Oakley removed the comment the next day after he learned some people were offended by the statement, which they equated with “lynching” the African-American suspect without due process.
Oakley apologized for the comment, both right after the post and during a Nov. 30 emergency PEC board of directors meeting. He said his intent was to show his frustration and anger over the killing of another law enforcement officer and not that he wanted to hang the suspect.
After taking public comments Dec. 7 for about an hour and fifteen minutes, the committee went into executive session at approximately 10:45 a.m. And there they remained for several hours along with PEC counsel and special counsel to the complaint committee.
At about 2 p.m., Scanlon emerged from the executive session. As she left the building, Oakley was standing outside and asked if they were done. Scanlon continued past but then said, “You’re a dishonorable man” to Oakley before storming off.
About a half-hour later, the remaining committee members — Pataki and Graf — came out of executive session. Pataki announced the committee hadn’t reached a decision and would reconvene at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 8.
During the Nov. 30 meeting, the PEC board formed the three-person committee to investigate a complaint against Oakley filed by fellow director Cristi Clement. The committee has until Friday, Dec. 9, to make a recommendation to the full board.
The committee can recommend a number of actions if it decides to do so. These include: a verbal warning; a written reprimand; censure; a reduction of director privileges or compensation; or removal. For removal, the board must decide so by a vote of at least two-thirds of the non-affected remaining directors. If the board decides to call for a vote of his removal, it would take place no earlier than Jan. 17.
The committee also can come back with the recommendation that the complaint has no merit.
Go to pec.coop to view agendas for future PEC board meetings. PEC serves 240,370 members over a multi-county area in Central Texas and has more than 275 employees.