Jeff Smith 6:35 p.m., June 27
UCAN board meeting gets testy
Insults fly -- still no consensus on what happened at so-called watchdog
The board of beleaguered Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN) met last night (Jan. 9) in both an open and closed session. In the open session, members discussed how, through a change in the bylaws, longtime board member Niel Lynch was supposedly removed Dec. 31. But Lynch does not want to be removed. "I see myself as the one person [on the old board] who tried to find out what the hell was going on...most of the people stonewalled, circled the wagons." (That view is shared by numerous people, both inside and outside the organization, who have watched this adventure unfold.) Attorney Mike Aguirre, lawyer for the whistleblowers who exposed the wrongdoing, said that Lynch should stay on the board. Robert Fellmeth, who originally put the now-departed Michael Shames in as head of UCAN, said in effect that Lynch had to stay because of a court decree. But Aguirre said (in a post-board interview) that, among other things, a contract can be broken by agreement of both parties, and UCAN had breached the covenant of good faith.
Fellmeth declared, "Aguirre doesn't know much about the law." But Aguirre had departed before the statement had been made. It was clear that, despite all that has transpired, some board members are seemingly ambiguous about what happened. In the post-meeting interview, Aguirre said, "UCAN can't seem to find its way to reform," although he believes some board members, such as two new ones added tonight, are good ones.
In the closed session, the board is discussing the recent suit that Shames filed against UCAN. The concern is that in return for dismissal, Shames wants some kind of immunity granted by the board, and possibly even an apology. Shockingly, it appears some board members want to give it to him, despite all that has transpired.