by Patrick Jason Rodriguez
A meeting scheduled for Monday, Nov. 29, to review the applications for the vacant position of general manager at the Socorro Electric Cooperative was postponed indefinitely. All members of the co-op’s board of trustees were invited to take part in the closed meeting.
The job of general manager has been open since August, following the dismissal of former general manager Polo Pineda Jr.
Members of the board of trustees received a letter on Nov. 24 from co-op administrative clerk Eileen Latasa stating that the Nov. 29 meeting was postponed.
Trustee Charlie Wagner said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that he arrived Monday evening at the site of the meeting and was met there by fellow trustees Donald Wolberg, Prescilla Mauldin, Luis Aguilar and Leo Cordova, all of whom are on the board’s search committee.
Wagner then asked Wolberg why the meeting was cancelled. “Wolberg said, ‘The meeting wasn’t cancelled, it was just postponed,’” said Wagner.
Wagner said that the co-op has received 27 applications for the job of general manager since it has been open, and it is important that a proper hiring process be conducted.
During a telephone interview on Wednesday, Wolberg pointed out that Wagner is not a member of the board’s search committee and need not have been at the meeting even if it had taken place. Wolberg added that the number of applicants for the general manager position has not been made public and he doesn’t know where Wagner obtained the figure of 27 applicants.
Wolberg also cited Policy No. 209 in the co-op’s policy manual, which states that the process for hiring managers follows the protocol of specific channels, in this case a search committee is established, the search committee appoints a chairperson, the committee vets the applicants, and then the entire board convenes to conduct the hiring process on the advice of the search committees findings.
Wagner sent an email on Monday, Nov. 29, to Mauldin and Aguilar saying that “… setting up the (closed) meeting was a formal action of the board by majority vote. . . It can’t be cancelled without action of the majority of the board in another open meeting. So we have another example on record, of illegal action by either the president, a committee, the attorney, or some other entity without proper authority.”
Aguilar, chairman of the board’s search committee, as of Wednesday, Dec. 1, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
In other co-op news, a status hearing in the case of the Socorro Electric Cooperative’s lawsuit against member-owners has been set for 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 14 at the 13th Judicial Courthouse in Los Lunas.