PEC Board votes 6-0 to investigate Oakley complaint, consider possible removal

James Oakley

The Pedernales Electric Cooperative Board of Directors voted 6-0 Wednesday, Nov. 30, to give written notice to director James Oakley that the board will consider his possible removal on Jan. 17 if a complaint filed against Oakley is found to merit such discipline.

In a resolution approved at a special called meeting, the board voted to establish a committee to investigate the complaint against Oakley and determine what punishment, if any, he may face for a social media post made earlier in the month in which Oakley commented it was “time for a tree and a rope” for the suspected killer of a San Antonio police officer.

Board President Emily Pataki indicated the committee, which will be comprised of directors Kathy Scanlon, Paul Graf and herself, can consider all avenues open to them through the cooperative's bylaws, including removing Oakley from the position he has held since 2013.

Pataki said during the meeting the committee will report their findings no later than Dec. 9 to the full board, which will then determine what steps it will take against Oakley, who will not be allowed to be involved in any deliberations regarding his fate.

On Monday, Nov. 21, Oakley, who also serves as Burnet County Judge, shared a post from the San Antonio Police Department about the arrest of an African-American man, Otis Tyrone McKane — accused of killing San Antonio police Det. Benjamin Marconi — on his personal Facebook account.

Oakley then posted a comment on his shared post that he thought it was “time for a tree and a rope … .” That comment, because it was placed on a shared public post, was publicly visible while it was on Oakley’s Facebook page. Oakley’s comment drew condemnation from a number of individuals on Facebook, who thought the elected official had overstepped his bounds by commenting so harshly in a public manner.

Others questioned whether there was some racial overtone to Oakley’s comment, given a very disturbing history in the South, and particularly in Texas, of lynchings involving minorities.

In addition to deleting his post Wednesday, Nov. 23, Oakley apologized for the comment, calling it “off the cuff” and “indeed curt and harsh.”

For more about the meeting and this story, check out Friday's edition of The Highlander.

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