Friday, August 13, 2010

A Look At The Co-op Redistricting Plan

By John Severance

The task is to divide the Socorro Electric Cooperative’s 11,400-square mile coverage area into five equal districts.
“It’s not as easy as you might think,” said Donald Wolberg, who headed the board of trustees’ survey committee.
Wolberg was going to present his plan last month, but the meeting never got the past the pledge of allegiance because of disagreements over the Open Meetings Act and the presence of a camera recorder in the room.
The co-op trustees took on the task because it wanted to save money. A professional survey company would have cost upwards of $200,000, general manager Polo Pineda said.
The coverage area is bigger than nine states including Hawaii, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island and the District Columbia.
“It’s about the size of Maryland,” Wolberg said. “Plus there is 3,500 miles of line and more than 40,000 poles.”
There are approximately 10,000 members and districts have to be divided into five equal ones of 2,000 each.
The plan calls for Socorro to be split into two districts. Wolberg said the tentative boundary would be Otero Road and School of Mines.
Wolberg said District 1 would include northern Socorro County and a southern section of Valencia County. District 2 would be the northern part of Socorro up to San Acacia. District 3 would be southern Socorro and south. District 4 would include San Antonio, and also Magdalena and Alamo. District 5 would be everything west of Magdalena to the Arizona border.
The plan takes into consideration adding 440 people to District 1, 1,285 to District 2 and 1,355 to District 4 while subtracting 2,175 from District 3 and 690 from District 5.
Wolberg said the task was tough because the committee also consisting of trustees Leroy Anaya, Leo Cordova, Dave Wade, Jack Bruton and Paul Bustamante had other factors to consider.
“What do we do with ranches that are owned by one person but have several meters on the property?” Wolberg said. “The same can be said for business owners, state entities, federal entities, city entities, Department of Defense entities. There may be a legal issue with members and media. Right now, it based on members.”
Wolberg also said he is looking for more input from members.
“This is just one scenario,” Wolberg said. “We are open to all suggestions from members. The membership also is going to have to vote on it.”
The subject came up again at the July 28 meeting and trustee Charlie Wagner voiced his opposition, saying it violated Article 5, Section 2 of the co-op bylaws.
“If we don’t obey the bylaws, it would subject us all to dismissal,” Wagner said.
Wagner said the board has to appoint a survey committee of members who are not interested in running as a trustee so there would be no conflict of interest. “We should also consult with a consultant,” he said.
Wolberg said, “This didn’t cost anybody anything.”
Meanwhile, the maps of the redistricting plan have been hanging in an office at the co-op building for the past two months.

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