Note: The following statement from Pedernales Electric General Manager Juan Garza was submitted to the Austin American-Statesman for publication on Sept. 7, 2008. The commentary clarifies PEC’s position on Texland Electric Cooperative.
Last week the former General Manager and former President of the Board of Directors of PEC wrote commentary in this newspaper regarding their roles in the Texland project. The statement they provided appears to be inconsistent with the information available to PEC, reports from current Board members and, in some instances, logical thought. While I take no pleasure in preparing this response, it is my responsibility to publicly clarify PEC’s views on the Texland matter, the statement made by former management and the actions that PEC is taking on behalf of our membership.
In their statement, Mr. Fuelberg and Mr. Burnett said they “recall verbally disclosing” their compensation of $111,600 each, allowable under the Texland bylaws, to PEC Board members. However, the Texland bylaws allow directors only a reasonable per diem sum and all expenses for their attendance at state, regional and national Cooperative meetings and for “such other meetings as any member of the Board of Directors may be directed by the Board of Directors to attend.” We have seen no documentation suggesting that any meeting attendance was directed by the Texland board. It is unusual to have no written documentation for these substantial compensation amounts, and current PEC Board members who served on the Board at that time do not recall any disclosure. It is also strange that their “per diem” (Latin for “per day”) compensation would be a lump-sum payment 10 years after the entity was established.
Mr. Fuelberg and Mr. Burnett also claim to want a clear accounting of Texland. Clear accounting and disclosure practices existed in the 1980s when Texland was started. With clear accounting, the continuation of Texland would have been fully disclosed and the source and disbursement of the accounts at Cattleman’s National Bank could be easily obtained. With no such clarity, we have had to take the extraordinary efforts to form a new Board to take control of an entity that very few people knew still existed and that does not appear to currently serve the Pedernales and Bluebonnet cooperatives that underwrote Texland.
In regard to Mr. Fuelberg’s and Mr. Burnett’s contention that the membership fees of PEC and Bluebonnet were refunded and that neither PEC nor Bluebonnet “remained a member of Texland,” we have no information to substantiate that statement. Also, quite simply, since Texland was created with funds from and loans guaranteed by PEC and Bluebonnet, reportedly for the best interest of PEC and Bluebonnet members, any payments to Texland should be returned to PEC and Bluebonnet for the benefit of each cooperative’s membership. On behalf of these members, we will continue to assert PEC’s interest in Texland and any related assets in which PEC may have a legitimate interest.
PEC management, along with the newly established Texland Board and the PEC Board, will continue our mission to compile a full accounting of Texland finances, disclose substantiated information to members and return any money from the venture to its rightful owners — which by all reasonable evidence are the members of PEC and Bluebonnet. At any time Mr. Fuelberg and Mr. Burnett can help the Texland investigation by providing information and answering the investigators’ questions. However, if they continue to try to use the media to misinform PEC members, we will continue to serve our membership by responding with PEC’s point of view regarding the accurate information that we have discovered.