Raise your arms to be sure


Socorro Electric Cooperative officials promised voting at this year’s annual meeting, set for tonight (Saturday) at Finley Gym, would be as transparent as can be. And so far, they’ve been right.



Because it’s easy to see through the strategies, so far, employed by the SEC’s board of trustees to achieve their ultimate end of preserving Business As Usual.

I say so far, because we don’t know what other tricks they might have up their sleeve tonight. Remember, they successfully managed to hijack last year’s meeting; they may be able to find a way to do it again.

Let’s take a look at what the board has done up until now to tip the balance of tonight’s election in their favor.

• The board has taken member-sponsored resolutions and countered them with resolutions of their own. On questions regarding the size of the board and redistricting, it appears to be to split the vote so those in favor of keeping the status quo can prevail with as little as 26 percent of the vote.

• The board has attached asterisks and added parentheses to some of the member-sponsored resolutions warning that such things as “voluntarily abiding” by the Open Meetings Act is against the law and reviewing records and information could constitute an invasion of privacy.

• Whereas voting used to take place during registration, now it appears as the last agenda item before adjournment. That looks a lot like an effort to dissuade voters, especially those in far reaching District 5 — where most of the member-sponsored resolutions originated — from even bothering to come. No telling when this meeting will end and at what time members traveling from as far away as Quemado will get home.

• The board has decided that this year’s elections will be conducted by a show of hands as opposed to using voting machines, as has been the practice in past years.

Let’s put that one under the microscope.

SEC officials say the show of hands method is how it’s done at most co-ops in the state and the same manner in which the resolutions were passed at district meetings last October. That may be true, but it’s not a good method for this election.

Why? This election is too emotionally charged. The potential consequences are too great. It leaves no paper trail.

Oh, there’s plenty of transparency. Too much. Unlike most any other election, everyone will be able to see how you vote.

If I were a co-op employee — and by the way co-op employees do a great job and it’s too bad they are put in this position — would I be so bold as to walk to the other side of the gym and join the reformers with my bosses and co-workers watching?

Same with family members of employees and trustees. Would I be willing to go against the family?

At its regular meeting Wednesday night, the board went after District 5 trustee Charlie Wagner, the guy guilty of stirring up all this trouble by leading the reform movement. Wipe away the mud slinging and you’ve got yourself a smear campaign.

Yep. This election is transparent. It’s clear the board of trustees has done everything it can to keep the status quo. They’ve cluttered things up, they’ve attempted to confuse people, they’ve put their own employees and family members in an uncomfortable position, they’ve used scare tactics and have gone on an assault. And in my opinion, they’ve created a hostile environment for tonight’s meeting.

It’s up to the people to decide the future of the SEC. So bring your underarm antiperspirant tonight and raise your arms to be sure our SEC operates with the best interests of the member-owners in mind, and not the interests of a few.

Last is general manager of El Defensor Chieftain.