You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Co-op director’s job threatened after ‘time for a tree and a rope’ post


A Burnet County official who simultaneously serves as an area utility executive is now fighting for his job as a director for the Pedernales Electric Cooperative following comments on a social media page that were considered violent and racist.

Burnet County Judge James Oakley, who has served on the co-op’s board since 2013, posted on Facebook last week that it was “time for a tree and a rope” in reference to a black suspect named in the killing of a San Antonio police detective earlier this month.

On Wednesday, the co-op’s board held an emergency meeting at its Johnson City headquarters to consider what action, such as a potential censure or even forcible removal, will now face Oakley.

“This is difficult… We are here because of me and I get that,” Oakley said, speaking to a crowded room in attendance for Wednesday’s meeting. Oakley said he wrote the post “in a moment of frustration… I did not mean a call for instant vigilante justice. I want to be very clear, I am all about due process.”

Oakley went on to issue an apology, saying his original Facebook post would have been the same even if there had been no mugshot or description of the suspect.

About 20 speakers, including co-op members and workers, signed up to speak at the 11 a.m. meeting and many made angry, emotional pleas that Oakley should resign. The meeting lasted about two hours before board members went into executive session to discuss their next steps with legal counsel.

The meeting was reconvened about two hours later and the board announced they had formed a committee to make a final decision on Oakley’s fate by Dec. 9.

“PEC has received and considered the complaint regarding Director Oakley’s social media comment,” the co-op said in a statement. “A committee of board members has been formed to consider all allowable action, per the cooperative’s bylaws. PEC does not condone any type of offensive language. Consistent with our cooperative values, we proudly welcome and serve all members.”

Oakley said Wednesday he removed the post from his Facebook page as soon as he received a reply saying it was offensive. Oakley appears to have made the comment Monday Nov. 21, after suspect Otis Tyrone McKane was charged in the death of San Antonio Det. Benjamin Marconi.

Last week, Oakley issued his first public apology about the Facebook comment as the story went viral and was picked up by several media outlets in Texas and beyond. The apology was very similar to the statement he gave at Wednesday’s meeting.

Previously, Oakley said his comment was “off the cuff” and “indeed curt and harsh.”

“It is for that reason that I deleted it soon after posting and apologize for not being more thoughtful and comprehensive in my expression,” Oakley said in his original apology. “What I should have posted, if anything, is a comment that more clearly reflects my opinion on the cowardly crime of the senseless murder of a law enforcement officer.”

His view of McKane was “the same regardless of ethnicity,” Oakley had said.

In addition to his role on the co-op board and presiding over a five-member commissioner’s court in Burnet County, Oakley is also on the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s executive committee and the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement’s board.

Last week, Oakley also emphasized he doesn’t oversee criminal cases in his Burnet County role.

“To be clear, I advocate due process,” Oakley said last week. “I also support the death penalty in cases where the ultimate crime has been committed and there is clear and complete evidence and where all steps of the judicial process have been respected. I would also point out that I am an administrative judge and do not preside over criminal court.”

Journalist James Walker, who previously worked for the Burnet Bulletin newspaper, said he saw Oakley’s Facebook post and took the screenshot the morning of Tuesday Nov. 22.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Navigating a remake of federal cybersecurity
Navigating a remake of federal cybersecurity

In 2007 on a featureless stretch of desert outside Kirkuk, Iraq, I stood with a young U.S. Army lieutenant trying to reconcile a crude, handheld GPS gadget with his laminated map. Ultimately, he failed. His interpreter asked a local for directions. Being lost was particularly frustrating because companies like Olathe-based Garmin sold easy-to-read...
Avideh Zakhor: The brains behind Google Earth and Street View
Avideh Zakhor: The brains behind Google Earth and Street View

BERKELEY, Calif. — For one of Silicon Valley’s most important inventions, we can thank Avideh Zakhor, creator of the technology that brought us Google Earth and Street View. Before there was Google Earth and Street View showing us around the world, there was Zakhor and her team driving a truck loaded with sensors around Berkeley and flying...
Lost for words? How to search online with your smartphone camera

On the hunt for new shoes? Racking your brain for a recipe idea? When you’re trying to find information, typing out words in a search bar is probably the first thought that comes to mind. Words can conjure up images and evoke emotions, but as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Now, companies including Pinterest, Amazon and...
DIY battery swap can bring new life to your old phone

After a few painful years of very cheap android phones, we finally gave my mother-in-law an old iPhone 5 that we were no longer using. I bought it new in 2012. I handed it down to my wife in 2014, and we handed it down to my mother-in-law last fall. The phone still has plenty of life left in it, although it will likely stop getting iOS updates when...
Several decisions to be made before selecting new headphones
Several decisions to be made before selecting new headphones

Headphone season is in full force right now. If you’re about to make a new purchase, don’t get fooled with fancy marketing, colorful boxes or hype. Instead, consider these features when shopping around (the order of importance depends on you): wireless vs wired, earbuds vs over the ear, cost and sound quality (which would be No. 1 for me)...
More Stories