Shock week

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Well, this is the week when the ElectriCities board meets in Raleigh. Friday at 9 am. In all likelihood, board members will gloss over the damning record of management incompetence, and once again assure customers they're doing all they can in a tough environment. Hey, everybody makes multi-million-dollar mistakes, right? Poor CEO, it's not really his fault.

And guess who gets the short end of the stick? ElectriCities customers.

Kudos to the interpid blogger who is pushing this issue to the front of the public consciousness. It ain't easy when the media, elected officials, ElectriCities management and the board are all in bed together.

**********************

This is from the event notice at the bottom of the page:

Attend the Board Meeting, but more importantly call Board Members and Mayors prior and demand CEO accountability. Do you want to pay 5% more on your rates every year because the CEO does not know how to do a refinancing of the debt and screws it up. Demand Accountability. This is a public entity hiding.

1427 Meadow Wood Boulevard Raleigh NC. Off Atlantic Avenue.
1-800-768-7697 ext. 6318

This is a public building and your electric rates built it. Visit and see what you paid for. It is your building and the board is supposed to represent you.

Comments

reading all the good advice now

Thanks James and Dan.

Al Manning, retiree, native of eastern NC and proud of it, plenty of time to read, research and get annoyed about the lack of accountability in elected leaders these days. Married to a real southern lady and we live with two labs and two airedales who run

A newspaper battle between Rocky Mount and Tarboro

Al Manning, retiree, native of eastern NC and proud of it, plenty of time to read, research and get annoyed about the lack of accountability in elected leaders these days. Married to a real southern lady and we live with two labs and two airedales who run

I totally agree. The

I totally agree. The fourteen members of the ElectriCities Board will gloss over the indisputable record of management incompetence, wasteful spending and continue on to party planning for their big August Beach party in SC because after all that is more fun, especially when someone else picks up the tab for $100,000 for it. They will probably not even assure customers they're doing all they can in a tough environment since they really don't care. And at ElectriCities everybody makes multi-million-dollar mistakes that cost people and the result will be, they will probably get a big fat raise. Maybe they can try to hire a few more lobbyists, who will leave by October, and then they can give some folks 15-20% raises for pain and suffering, weathering this storm. Because they could not possibly make any cuts and show they can take the pain. The Board will not only keep taking its salary but keep on partying on the taxpayer's tab out of state.

ElectriCities customers get the shaft. There is a committed group pushing this issue after poring through the research. Several interested groups with different angles came together to make this information public. The media, elected officials, ElectriCities management and the board are all in bed together and have been but happily we saw the Wilson Daily Times and the Rocky Mount Telegram get out of the bed. The Tarboro Daily Southerner is snuggled up so tight with the Board Chairman, there is no prying them out and that is a terrible disservice to Tarboro.

We expect nothing tomorrow or on the 30th but we are committed to be at every meeting, every city council. We have recruited a point person in each place, we have a press release ready. We have moved to gain contacts in the west. Starting with the board members, we will target those councils first with questions, newspapers, etc. If they think we are letting up, surprise - we are not. Those 30+ employees making $100,000+ better be looking at options. We know city councils will pass resolutions, demand answers when they see the salaries, expense reports, raises and bonuses for the past 5-6 years.

Should ElectriCities Board choose to do the right thing and select a competent leader will help but the true measure of credibility will be to make cuts to frivolous spending, overpaid staff and excess staff now.

Press Release and City Contacts

This is a battle for good government and the citizen's best interests that will carry on beyond this meeting to the next one and the next one and next one until the changes are made. City Council Members are elected. Board Members are elected.

For Immediate Release by City Spokespersons representing this cause statewide.

Citizens and Business Uniting for Leadership, Excellence and Responsibility

A Change in Leadership is Needed at ElectriCities of NC

ElectriCities of NC is a not-for-profit trade association, together with two municipal power agencies that serve 32 eastern cities and 19 western cities with ownership in the power agencies.

Presently the organization has approximately a one billion dollar budget and oversight is a board of representatives of cities from the east and west. The composition of the board at present time is: five town managers, one former manager, two utility managers and one utility director, two former mayors, two current mayors, one council member. The Board is paid a salary of $1,000 per month for 12 months for a term of three years.

In June, ElectriCities announced a 14% rate increase for the eastern power agency, even though the CEO was aware of problems that would affect rates in October 2007 and the Board in March 2008. The result is most cities will have to pass the rate to their customers, adding another burden to a declining economy and rising costs. At least 2% of the increase is due to a refinance of the agency's $3 billion debt in the variable bond market where the interest rate soared, costing $12 million in interest. The decision and then the delay in revealing the problem means citizens got one month notice to adjust personal and business budgets to a much higher electric rate, most in cities where the electric rates are already much higher than those of competitors.

Citizens and businesses are uniting across the cities to encourage City and Town Councils to ask questions now and regularly about ElectriCities management based on reports of excessive salaries, double digit salary increases, more than 30 staff members earning more than $100,000, excessive staff turnover in some divisions, multiple legal settlements with former staff, pending federal legal claims against current staff, the refinancing error, excessive spending for events and travel, many out of state.

Further we will encourage City and Town Councils to inquire as to details of these issues and demand ElectriCities do its part, via resolution, to help soaring energy costs that are burdening citizens by making operational cuts as many cities have been forced to do. Further, we will encourage City Councils to meet with Board Members and Power Agency Commissioners on these matters to monitor actions and results on a monthly basis and publicly provide reports. Further, we encourage City Councils to evaluate their representative on the power agency board of commissioners to ensure a strong understanding of the issues and demand monthly reports on ElectriCities and power agency activities and budget and to provide that information to the public.

Suggested cuts in ElectriCities include:

$168,000 per year for Board member Salaries

Reduction in CEO salary to $250,000, a savings of $200,000 and termination of current contract for the CEO amid mismanagement, misallocation of funds for staff salary increases.

Elimination of its out of state Myrtle Beach Party, a savings of more than $100,000 plus the additional costs cities incur for travel, meals and lodging.

Elimination of staff retreats, out of state travel, savings of more than $200,000

Elimination of positions in senior management and salary adjustments eliminating double digit salary increases over the past five years, savings of more than $2 million

Elimination of contract lobbyists and excessive staff lobbyists based on excessive turnover (80%), savings of $500,000

Restrict the legal budget expenses to $150,000, savings of more than $400,000

Hiring freeze

Restriction of salary adjustments to 2% for the lowest paid employees only.

Elimination of bonuses.

Streamlining functions within ElectriCities to achieve elimination of positions.

Further we recommend these cost savings be immediately undertaken, effective September 1 and applied to costs associated with the rate increase so that the reductions have an immediate reduction effect on rates.

We are citizens and businesses representing the cities and we are demanding change, accountability, and excellent leadership that includes innovative solutions to soaring energy costs.

###

Al Manning, retiree, native of eastern NC and proud of it, plenty of time to read, research and get annoyed about the lack of accountability in elected leaders these days. Married to a real southern lady and we live with two labs and two airedales who run

ElectriCities in my opinion

It is of my opinion that ElectriCities is another example of the good ole boy system that was put in place for friends. It started out as a way for these good ole boys to so call serve the public but in a way to make money and have fun outside of their regular job. It appears the good ole boys have gone overboard with salaries.

I bet many of them say they are church folks but can't see the need to take a cut in pay. It don't take $450,000 a year to live. It damn sure do not take $1,000 a month to attend a board meeting. Hell this was before gas went up.

If these good ole boys really were concerned about the people they are serving they would cut their salaries because every little bit of monies saved could help. But oh hell no they don't want to do that. Sam Nobles is the Town Manager of Tarboro and should be getting paid a decent salary so why does he need $1,000 a month to serve on the board? So why does former Rocky Mount Fred Turnage and a retired attorney need $1,000 a month to serve on the board?

And then what tickles the hell out of me is that Nobles allowed his Tarboro Town Council to vote on the increase before the ElectriCities board voted? The people in Tarboro ought to be mad as hell!!

The struggle continues,
Curmilus Dancy II
Grassroots Effective Community Activist
Blogger
http://www.thepoliticalagitator.com

See related link:
ElectriCities

"I swore never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." - Elie Weisel

I agree with C. Dancy II; Positions of Candidates

I agreed wholeheartedly. Good points.

We may want to consider telling them to cut their advertising and redundant economic development spending and give that money to the cities for better local use.

Ty Harrell, Bryan Gossage; Ed Ridpath, Paul Stam

These guys represent Apex and (part of Wake Forest?), electric cities. Where do you stand on this debacle? Paul Stam was working for Apex when this place was created.

We would like positions on this issue please as we will be asking all candidates and members of the legislature.

Thanks

Great analogy to Wachovia!

And great buzz going on the blogs. Nice work.

This is what it takes to move mountains. You all are really doing what's needed - and sticking with it day-in and day-out. That's how the OLF grannies stopped the Navy, but hopefully it won't take five years for the ElectriCities board to do it's damn job and bring in some accountability.

Rocky Mount Telegram Breaking News

These board members are totally without spines.

http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/

TIGHTEN YOUR BELT
RATE INCREASE APPROVED
RMT electricity rate to increase by 14%

BREAKING NEWS

The ElectriCities board of directors today approved a 14 percent increase in electricity rates.The rate increase would affect 32 cities and towns, including Rocky Mount, which are part of the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency.
Full Story

http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/news/content/news/stories/2008/07/27//utilityhike.html

SPEAK OUT ON ELECTRICITIES
Join the debate on what to do about a proposed utility rate hike
http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/communities/herrin/

Al Manning, retiree, native of eastern NC and proud of it, plenty of time to read, research and get annoyed about the lack of accountability in elected leaders these days. Married to a real southern lady and we live with two labs and two airedales who run

Yuck.

n/t

Don't consider this a defeat

Al --

I know this wasn't the outcome that you wanted, but don't consider it a defeat. Newton's First Law of Motion states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. It's as true for physical objects as it is for organizations. You may not have brought ElectriCities to an abrupt halt but you may have slowed it down or moved it from its current path. You've served notice that someone is watching ElectriCities and you've cleared the way to hold each of those Board members accountable for their performance.

Even after you've raised objections, identified areas of confusion, and suggested alternatives, they've still voted to continue on their course. You may now assume that they read their local newspapers, that they've asked the important questions, and that they've reviewed the answers from ElectriCities. And you can ask more questions now.

For example, you may now ask each of those Board members whether or not:

  • They've reviewed the Q1 and Q2 results of ElectriCities (the ones that aren't disclosed on the website). Surely they didn't vote without reviewing those materials.
  • They've reviewed any issues with management around lobbying costs or legal costs. Surely they reviewed those issues and agreed with management before voting to raise the rates.
  • They've compared the performance and rates of ElectriCities (and the local municipalities) with the performance and rates of the publicly traded energy companies serving NC as well as the energy co-ops serving NC.
  • They're comfortable with (and have considered) the long term plans for monitoring and managing the debt and the rising costs of fuel. Or, are they going to pass another rate increase next year? Or do they know?

Ask for the information. Ask them as a collective and ask them individually. You've established that they get compensated, as members of the Board, to do that. You've also established that they feel their compensation, at its current level, is warranted and deserved for their time and efforts. So, HOLD THEM RESPONSIBLE, first as Board members, and second as elected officials.

They've approved the actions of management (which is fine, provided they have reached a level of comfort with management's decisions). So, tie them to management. (And write letters to the Board... not emails, but certified correspondence that must be addressed and entered into the minutes.)

Dan

We are on it and feel very good

We knew this would be a battle. Most things worth fighting for are a battle. This is about good government, credibility and doing things for the right reasons. We have a good core group of a hundred very committed people and we find that we bring more along as we educate them. We are on our next steps. We are finding out that city councils do not really know what is going on so we will stay focused on making the board accountable and we will tie them to management. We will focus on the power agency commissioners too since they elect the board and we will ensure we get elected officials out to hold the feet of the power agency commissioners to the fire. We have a list of about 25 other items to research, all just as bad as the salaries and hidden refinancing. So we will work those next and we feel it is a victory that the newspapers are interested now as well.

Dan, James - keep on helping with the analyses and organizational advice and we will keep marching on. (well, I won't be marching since I have a disability but I will be wheeling along).

The other very good aspect of this effort, we have all political persuasions, all races and all demographics represented so we are diverse.

Al Manning, retiree, native of eastern NC and proud of it, plenty of time to read, research and get annoyed about the lack of accountability in elected leaders these days. Married to a real southern lady and we live with two labs and two airedales who run

Shock weak

The only thing that would have been shocking is if the board had bothered to acknowledge the mismanagement. The good old boy network is alive and well in ElectriCities.

ElectriCities Mismanagement

We just have to keep working on it. Follow Dan's advice. Follow James' advice. We will get there. Stick with it and recruit others.

Bruce Rose feels the heat in his city and he voted "no" but the Wilson Daily Times has been scared senseless about reporting on the powers that be so the heavy media lifting is at the Rocky Mount Telegram which has been covering the meetings for a while. Very interesting relationships going.

http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/news/content/news/stories/2008/07/26/electricities.html

Terry Smith is clueless but he is out there to cover Sam Noble's back because Sam Noble will soon be under the gun in Tarboro as his council goes under the gun. There is a very engaged group there and Sam just aint no match for them. terry Smith thinks that when a few towns follow a procedure incorrectly (and technically there is a power agency meeting on the 30th before it is official) that makes it right which is about the craziest argument I have heard, especially from a journalist. He should probably put the pen down cause he is looking pretty bad.

Note that Bruce Rose was trying to call for cuts but just has not a clue how to do it. Pitiful. Maybe we can educate him. Leads from the staff and others keep coming in so there is a constant stream of intel to sort through to see if it has merit.

$700 million budget for the eastern power agency (and you know the board members from the other areas do not care one bit. In fact a staff person reported that Strib Boynton in High Point has asked why these easterners can not be shut up)

But my favorite is this quote "Anything less than that, you're playing politics," Noble said. "It's not good business." That is a hoot. Is that not what Sam Noble is doing with his trips, kick backs, drinking parties, preview events for annual meeting (at least three staff have provided an informal employee survey that alleges Sam Noble taking trips to check out annual meeting sites with his family and being the beneficiary of some nice meals, activities) Just another series of questions to ask. I also did not see him offering up his salary that he has received for 11 years now. He likes that too much.

Despicable.

This is a surge for open government that is working

http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/news/content/news/opinion/stories/2008/07/27/herrin.html

I got a call from a friend in Lumberton where they have been in the dark on this issue but thanks to someone who read BlueNC they are well informed now. These are issues we need to hear about for a public entity to function. Too many secrets for too long. Too much chatter about issues to ignore it. We ignored it during deregulation for too long and things got out of hand. Energy is too important not to have oversight and accountability to protect the public.

Good job all. The advice, guidance and analysis that started here has spread and the value of this forum is invaluable on many levels.

Al Manning, retiree, native of eastern NC and proud of it, plenty of time to read, research and get annoyed about the lack of accountability in elected leaders these days. Married to a real southern lady and we live with two labs and two airedales who run

Andre Knight, Reuben Blackwell, Rick Dew, Curmilus Dancy

It was remiss of me not to acknowledge two council members from Rocky Mount - Andre Knight and Reuben Blackwell. And a very good community leader Rick Dew in Wilson. And, Curmilus Dancy with his www.thepoliticalagitator.com site. Rick has been talking about these issues a long time and has spent untold hours on it. Andre and Reuben were questioning things before other elected officials and Curmilus had information on his site a long time ago and kept the conversation going in Rocky Mount.

Al Manning, retiree, native of eastern NC and proud of it, plenty of time to read, research and get annoyed about the lack of accountability in elected leaders these days. Married to a real southern lady and we live with two labs and two airedales who run

The surge is working!

Very funny.

And nice job. You are the beginning of a snowball rolling ... and no matter what happens in the short term, ElectriCities is now confronting the reality of engaged ratepayers who won't take "no" for an answer.

Make no mistake, though, they now have their communications people hot on the task of combatting you. They're making plans and allocating people and gearing up their propaganda machine with the single purpose of keeping the media from hearing both sides of the story. This is a core reaction of big organizations. Instead of focusing their energies on doing the right thing, they focus instead on self-protection through obfuscation and spin.

ElectriCities

Fortunately, the advice from the experts here has been so good. And the analysis here has been good. That must have shocked them. They are used to smoke and mirrors on their finances.

Their communications people have no experience. Novices. They lost the person who combatted me previously when I called there to debate (weekly) and she was a barracuda on the art of "talking point." Their communications person posted an absurd memo and said people should use fans instead of a/c to save money. That single issue enraged people. To have someone in Raleigh, who obviously does not get out much, talk down to us and tell us to forgo modern technology because we are screwed by them is unacceptable. If that is strategic communications, then I'm a monkey's uncle.

What will happen is that they will have to contract with someone to help and that will be more money down the tube. I have heard they are already trying to do that. They will try to buy a hundred thousand dollars of help but that will bite them back.

When you buy expensive ads in North Carolina magazine and on the radio, and do expensive videos for cities, you are just spending more money we will need to investigate for cuts. Communications goes when under the gun. That does no good when your rates are spiraling out of control and ratepayers want controlled spending. It's like the lobbying. Spending more to make up for so many people leaving and no expertise in place will just get you investigated more. When the CEO goes and registers as a lobbyist because three lobbyists have left in five months (and readily talk about the ghastly conditions), you know there is a problem. They keep paying their lawyers more and more for lobbying and legal issues, and frankly that firm has no experience in the issues they are facing. And there is pretty good intel from inside on things the lawyers have done that make raise eyebrows. I expect they will try to circumvent and have the law firm hire someone. Either way someone will be paying and we will keep the heat on to find out how much.

I hope the reports of the former employees getting together to sue is true because the timing will be perfect.

No spin is going to help them escape the reality that they need to make cuts like everyone else when costs go up and since we thought of cuts before they did, and you see how fast Bruce Rose jumped on it, they again look mismanaged and without leadership in terms of doing what is right for eastern NC. Hard to escape the fact that the CEO really does not care about eastern NC, just his job and money.

People in the western cities are somewhat oblivious but I don't think those officials want to be held responsible for the demise of eastern cities so I think our efforts there will pay off.

I think they will be surprised at the business leaders we have on board with us.

More to come ...