Thursday, June 10, 2010

Co-op Members Take Recall Off Table

By John Severance

SOCORRO -- About 20 people attended a meeting of concerned Socorro Electric Cooperative members at the Socorro Public Library Tuesday.
Organizer Charlene West said they met to discuss their options after co-op attorney Dennis Francish has advised the board to go about its business as usual and not enforce some of the amendments passed the annual meeting in April.
West and reform movement organizers had hoped to organize a recall of the trustees.
But Thaddeus Bejnar, a former state law librarian, called certain statutes and laws to the attention of those in attendance. Calling for a recall would not do any good, he said, because the trustees have not been in violation of any laws.
According to West, Bejnar said they need to organize a special meeting to make the bylaws that were passed to read legal. They need to word the amendments so when they are passed there needs to be language in those amendments for when they are to take effect.
He also said they have to be written so that objections can not “reasonably” be raised against them and so “that how and when they go into effect” is clear.
Bejnar also said he would be “happy to serve on committee. But if we need legal drafting done, we need somebody who does this for a living.”
In order to call a special meeting, petitions must be signed by 10 percent of the members. Other options to call a special meeting include a resolution called by the Board of Trustees or a written request signed by any three trustees. Francish has said the present trustees can fill out their terms and the old rules are grandfathered in. Even though members passed a $10,000 spending limit, Francish advised trustees to go about their business and spend what they need to spend.
At the last co-op meeting, Francish said he will test three bylaw amendments in court and the trustees allowed him to do so.
The three amendments he wants to test include:
• The open meetings act and inspection of public records act. Francish claims it is unworkable and provides a hardship for the corporation.
• The guarantee of transparency of actions with open access to SEC books, records and audits to members for a proper, non-commercial purpose with the exception of those records which would violate the Privacy Act. Francish claims this is illegal and an abuse of the membership’s rights and it is harmful to the corporation.
• Board meetings being open to member/owners being open to member/owners and representatives of the press with timely notice of the meeting advertised in monthly bill mailings and local newspapers. A section of the meeting agenda shall be reserved for member participation during which member/owners may address the Board without prior approval of the Board. Francish argues this is unreasonable with the corporation’s operations.

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