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March 17, 2013

PUBLIC FORUM: Members encouraged to attend meeting

— From the bylaws of Pulaski-White Rural Telephone Cooperative (PWRTC): Any outgoing board member may automatically (at his or her discretion) be nominated for the next three-year term.”

I offer some thoughts on this archaic practice. Long-term tenure can lead to:

• Passive acquiescence.

• Failure to respond to a changing environment.

• Limitation of diverse opinions.

• Resistance to change.

• The disregard of current member/customers.

Here are some numbers from the two most recent financial reports. These numbers are a direct reflection of the loss of customers who are choosing other options.

• Total Operating Revenue 2010: $2,148,425; 2011: $2,012,198. Going down.

• Total Operating Expense 2010: $2,337,872; 2011: $2,443,271. Going up.

• Operating Loss 2010: ($2,337,872); 2011: ($431,073). Going up.

In 2011, PWRTC had a realized loss on investments of $880,997. This is due to the purchase of a small electronics firm in Monticello. The store is now closed, but we did not get an explanation at last year’s meeting from any board member or the president/CEO.

The members have an opportunity to cast ballots in the election of board members at the annual meeting on Tuesday, March 19. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. (registration begins at 6). In yet another archaic practice, you actually have to go to that meeting at that time to cast a ballot.

The meeting will be held at the “new” building in Buffalo. We will have an opportunity to see where our membership dollars have gone. Hundreds of thousands of dollars into studies, architect fees for the design of a building on property that is no longer being used, architect fees into this renovation, the purchase of the first piece of land, the purchase of this second piece of land, the actual renovation, the new office furniture and equipment. All for a building that was never necessary for the growth of the company or the technology. All of this is occurring while customer/member numbers are declining.

We have an opportunity to make a difference in two of the districts, because we can choose to elect someone new in those districts. We were let down for the third district. The nominations committee was told that one board member had chosen not to run, so two candidates were put forward. Then the current board member decided to run. As a member of the nominations committee, I was not informed that the slate we put forth was not the slate going forward until I read it in a newsletter. Having three candidates will essentially assure the current member of re-election.

As a former employee of PWRTC, and as a member who understands full well how far behind the curve the services to the membership have sunk, again, I urge the membership to attend this meeting and cast a ballot for change. And, as a message to the current and future Board of Directors, please make the first order of business following that March 19 meeting a change to the by-laws to end that self-serving passage.

Kathleen “Kathi” Thompson

Star City

 

 

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