The Sounding Board: “How Would You Run It?”

My wife, Nancy, over morning coffee, recently asked me, “How would you run the West Oregon Electric Cooperative?”

It was an intriguing question.  Members need ready access to information, a path to participation, not restriction, in order to effectively relate to the co-op they own and empower.  So, I sat down and wrote an answer.

I would require strict, not casual, application of Roberts Rules of Order. The basic format of well stated motions, 2nds, discussions and rebuttals would be followed, not casually touched on.  Roll call votes would be required so that each director’s decision would be recorded and publicly available.  An active parliamentarian to keep matters on track would be required.  All meetings would be recorded, transcribed verbatim, put online and printed, which would assure objectivity to details, the board’s decisions, the manager’s role, and assure broad distribution of  WOEC actions to the membership. Detailed agendas, not skeletal outlines, and full supporting materials, would be provided online and in print at the front desk prior to, and after, each meeting. The exclusive round table and high back chairs used at board meetings, excepting executive sessions, would be replaced with worktables and inclusive seating for all persons present.  Member participation would be favored. There would be vigorous use of overhead projection and/or large online digital screening of information.  A state-of-the-art speaker system  and headphones for attendees with hearing challenges would be used.  Coffee and refreshments would be provided to everyone along with intermittent restroom breaks.

I would install a stronger, more vigorous use of committee assignments, to be continually followed online.  Attention would be focused on, but not limited to, the following areas: (1) Audit content, including internal efficiencies excepting required protection of personnel files; (2) Alternative energy research and prototypes; (3) Right of Way access and maintenance; (4) Membership access to information; (5) Quarterly District Information Meetings, including social gatherings to increase membership participation and awareness; (6) Homeowner Hands-On Seminars for Conservation; (7) Rate Structure analysis and solutions; (8) Membership grievances and assistance;  (9) Dividends (patronage accounts).

I believe by using this more open approach, the membership would be well served and issues like our increasing electric rates, dividends and outside investments better handled and more understandable to membership.