Thursday, May 27, 2010

EDITORIAL: Can Anybody Stop The Electric Co-op Freefall?

By John Severance
Editor, Mountain Mail

How low can it go?
Judging by what has transpired in the past month, the Socorro Electric Cooperative is in an absolute freefall with no end in sight.
It’s bad enough that it remains business as usual for the SEC, despite the members showing up in force at the annual meeting in April to change some of the bylaws.
SEC attorney Dennis Francish advised his clients (the board) that they can continue to go on trips to conduct business and not worry about the spending cap. The trustees also were advised that all of them could fill out their terms. Six of the trustees, though, have filled out more than two terms.
Anyway, this is nothing compared to what has happened in the past month.
Trustee Milton Ulibarri and others got the attention of the New Mexico League of United Latin American Citizens.
The outgoing state LULAC director Paul “Pablo” Martinez drafted a letter to SEC president Paul Bustamante, wanting the cooperative to investigate trustee Charlie Wagner for allegedly making numerous disparaging remarks toward Hispanics.
There is a lot of blame to go around with this and Wagner gets his fair share.
The outspoken leader of the SEC reform movement has worked hard in his role, but in his quest, he has lost his temper and likely said some things that maybe now he would like to take back.
Wagner needs to keep from making any kind of comments that are discrimnatory or can be construed as such.
The co-op has every right to investigate Wagner and it’s apparent a majority of the trustees would like to see him removed.
But does the co-op really want to go down this road?
If Wagner is investigated and the case goes to court, you can be assured, he will bring the heat. Wagner will be hiring counsel and who knows what they will find.
During the course of an investigation, there is a little item called discovery.
That means Wagner’s counsel can demand every little bit of information that the co-op has to offer.
And I mean everything.
Those in charge of the co-op better make sure that all their Ts are crossed and Is are dotted.
If they aren’t, there is no end in the sight to the freefall.
And it definitely won’t be a happy landing.

Co-op addendum

And believe it or not at Wednesday night’s co-op meeting, the trustees passed a resolution to fight the three bylaw amendments in court that started this whole mess. They still don’t want open meetings, they still are against their transparency of actions and still believe that member-owners and press representatives should not be present at their meetings.

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