Thursday, August 5, 2010

Valencia Judge Recused In Co-op Lawsuit

By John Severance

The legal wrangling is underway in the Socorro Electric Cooperative’s lawsuit against Charlene West, the member-owners, the Mountain Mail et. al.
In the past week, attorney Lee Deschamps, on the behalf of West, recused Valencia County judge John W. Pope on July 28. The new presiding judge is William Sanchez.
That left the change of venue hearing on Aug. 10 in limbo at the Valencia County Courthouse in Los Lunas. Socorro attorneys Thomas A. Fitch and Polly Ann Tausch had filed a motion to request a change of venue and that was scheduled for Aug. 10 and Pope was to hear the case.
When asked if the hearing was still on, Fitch said, “I don’t know.”
Deschamps, meanwhile, made an entry of appearance and answered for West of Lemitar. Deschamps also made an entry of appearance for Charlie and Charlene Wagner of Magdalena and Alvin Hickox of San Antonio. Hickox filed a motion on his own last week.
Socorro attorney John Gerbracht made a limited entry of appearance and made a motion to quash the service by publication.
Gerbracht wrote the co-op’s motion for order for service of process was deficient in two areas. The motion was not signed by the plaintiff’s attorney and no copy of the proposed Notice of Publication was attached.
Gerbracht also wrote the order for service of process by publication in a newspaper is deficient in that it does not direct publication in the county where the action is pending. The newspaper notice did not contain the name of each defendant.

• Doug May of Socorro submitted a resolution to the co-op, regarding the Inspection of Public Records Acts and The Open Meetings Act. He wants both to be included in the bylaws of the SEC, excluding those sentences dealing with enforcement and penalties, and finally, be it.
In an email, May wrote, “Is this resolution necessary? Probably not, but it is an attempt to focus the trustees' attention on it and possibly to secure a greater degree of compliance with it.”
Trustee Leroy Anaya read May’s resolution in its entirety.
Trustee Charlie Wagner said the resolution was unnecessary because he said the co-op already is supposed to be under the auspices of the OMA. “This is already a bylaw,” Wagner said.
•The next regularly scheduled meeting for the SEC board will be Aug. 25. There also will be a special meeting, regarding the audit on Aug. 26.
Wagner insisted the meeting’s agenda has to be modeled after the Open Meetings Act. “If you don’t follow this, the meeting will not be valid.”
If the co-op follows the OMA, that means the agenda has to be available to the public 24 hours before the meeting, Wagner said. “You have to follow the bylaws. You don’t have a choice.”
One of the other items Wagner wanted on the agenda was an anti-fraud policy. “We have never had one and our auditors have made a recommendation that we make one,” he said.
• The other person besides Juan Gonzales, who spoke during the public input session, was member Marie Watkins, who questioned the high rate of loans (every three or four years) and the long pay-off terms (30 years). General manager Polo Pineda said he would look into the debt limit of the co-op.
• The Board voted to purchase 16 defribillators for $1,345 including training of all SEC personnel.

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