Letters to the Editor

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Community help appreciated
Editor:
I wanted to take the opportunity to say thank you to the Socorro community for supporting and participating in the Sky Lantern Release on Jan. 22 at Sedillo Park.

It was a beautiful sight to see the lanterns lighting the dark sky on behalf of the lost children of our world. It was an amazing visual stand against the wrongs against children (the abused and neglected, orphans, abortion) in this world, as well as honoring and remembering some children that have been lost to disease, accidents, miscarriages, abortions, etc.
The turnout was amazing and I wanted to personally thank each person who was involved. Also, a special thank you to Stephanie McFadden for arranging all the refreshments that were enjoyed.
Thank you to Scott Jameson of Smith’s for donating cookies; Cherokee Madril and Adrianna Carilli for providing hot chocolate; Jo Daniel Saavedra from Socorro General Hospital for loaning us thermoses, and finally, I would like to thank John Gonzalez with Night Train Fireworks for donating 12 lanterns.
It is a true blessing to see the community come together on behalf of the children. I pray God’s blessing over all those who made this event possible — organizers and participants alike.
Can’t wait to see you all next year!
Megan Taylor, Magdalena


Beware of scams
Editor:
Do you pay your bills on time every month?
At 6:30 a.m. on Friday I received a call. I rarely get calls that early and of course all you can think of is who got hurt or who died.
It was nothing like that. It was a party calling me from Georgia telling me because I pay my bills on time every month, I’ve been awarded $450,000. I would also be receiving a Mercedes Benz car, all taxes paid. I hung up on him.
He called back right away. I told them I wasn’t interested and to give the money to someone else. He said legally they couldn’t do that because my name had been chosen. Their instructions were that I was to be home at 12 p.m. on Jan. 28 when UPS would deliver an envelope with a bank legal certified check of $450,000. The federal taxes would have already been paid plus a few other taxes. I cold take the certified check to my bank and cash it immediately. I said no, the bank would not cash it, they would send it for collection.
I kept asking questions. I never get excited because I told him that in life you never get something for nothing. I told him I felt this was a scam. Since he couldn’t convince me, he said he would let me talk to his boss or CEO, who he claimed was nice and honest. The accent they both spoke with didn’t sound like an individual from Georgia. It sounded foreign.
Here was what he told me. All taxes would be paid, plus shipping and handling. The thing I was to pay was the 1 percent local taxes of $499. I was to go to Walmart or K-Mart and get a money gram on a green back BOT paper card. He didn’t say who to make it out to — no address — no other information except for the name of the company, Federal …
Then he changed the name of the place — Walgreens — I was to get the check from. I told him we didn’t have a Walgreens and he asked where the closest one was. I told him 90 miles round trip. Then, did we have a place to fax something and did I have an e-mail and I said no to everything he suggested.
Later that morning I called UPS to see if they had an envelope addressed to me which would have the $450,000 certified check. In exchange I was to give UPS the check for $499. UPS checked their records and said no, they had nothing to deliver to my house.
I felt it was and is a SCAM. How many seniors and other people get taken by crooks who know because the economy is so bad that we are willing to accept what they tell us and we fall into their SCAMMING Trap? Beware of those phone calls.
Betsy Francois, Socorro


Financial data needed
Editor:
I was uncomfortable at the Jan. 21 information meeting at Finley Gym sponsored by the Socorro Electric Cooperative. I felt badly for Catt Cobb, the rate analyst with SCS Engineering hired by the co-op to figure the new electric rates to be presented to the Public Regulatory Commission (PRC) for their approval.  
For more than 30 years, Catt has been calculating rates for many electric co-ops. She works with figures and understands how to explain what the figures mean with spreadsheets, tables and charts. But Friday evening she had none of these things, not even a chalk board.  
I do not think it was Catt’s choice not to have handouts for her presentation. Analysts and accountants don’t make presentations without all the figures there for everyone to see. She was obviously hampered in making her presentation.  
I suspect that the co-op administration didn’t want to make that information available. The co-op did not make their margin in 2009 and it is uncertain if the margin was made in 2010. Catt explained that revenue, minus expenses, equals the margin. It would be bad if the additional attorney fees would keep us from making the margin in 2010. This is a very serious situation for the co-op.
To make a judgment on the appropriateness of the proposed rate changes, we need all the information that was given to Catt for her analysis. We were told that the residential customers were not paying their fair share and their system charges would increase to $15 per month. I suspect that this is appropriate but we were given no data to substantiate it. Catt Cobb and Richard Lopez, acting general manager of the co-op, both experienced and knowledgeable people, strongly recommend the proposed rate changes. But they did not make their case with the appropriate financial information.
By not having all the financial data available for the members at the information meeting, the co-op administration is almost inviting people to protest the proposed rate increase. If we do not have the necessary information to make an informed judgment, then it is appropriate for the PRC to do it for us.
If 25 protests are received by the PRC within 20 days after the Feb. 3 filing, they will examine the figures for themselves to see if the rate requests are justified. One wonders if the PRC receives Catt’s figures, if they wouldn’t also become public record and available to the members?  
I have requested that the financial data be made public, but as yet have not received a positive answer. The solution for the co-op might be to publish the necessary financial data that was available to Catt Cobb immediately, before the Feb. 3 filing.  
We all know that the financial picture at the co-op is not good and that we are going to have to pay for all the problems of the past and present. We just want a complete financial picture.
Doug May, Socorro


Running co-op is serious business
Editor:
The Socorro Electric Co-op meeting this past Wednesday (Jan. 26) was typical in numerous respects. The “old school” trustees play their same tired tune that slips past any action that might benefit the co-op and its members. Two things stood out for this interested observer.
1. Trustee Charles Wagner makes serious efforts to get the board to conduct co-op business in a professional manner. When the long-standing auditor, Bolinger, et al., from Lubbock submits a bid to conduct the upcoming annual audit, the trustees steamroll past Wagner’s (and Mauldin’s) request that other bids be solicited.
Audits are supposed to be independent and objective. The board and its acting manager staunchly defend Bolinger. During the meeting Bolinger’s representative discusses co-op affairs and continuously refers to the Socorro Electric Co-op as “us” and “we.” He’s in town doing some accounting work for Richard Lopez, acting general manager, and he’s also supposed to do the independent audit. He says “We” and he purports to be independent, too? That’s 11 years of cozy “independence,” but only Charles Wagner and Prescilla Mauldin call for audit bids? This accountant is not working at “arm’s-length” — forget independence. We need bids, not “good ole boys”.
2. The demeanor and behavior of trustee Donald Wolberg during the meetings is unprofessional and sophomoric. Wolberg plays the “bad boy” in his efforts to derail Wagner’s efforts to have the board operate in a businesslike and professional manner. Constant wisecracks, eye-rolling, faces and playing to the other simpatico trustees for laughs and support ill-behooves any trustee.
Running the co-op is a serious business. Wolberg seems to have taken his deportment from the “Animal House” school of meeting conduct. Wolberg is overtly rude to Wagner and makes comments he figures will draw laughs and point derision at Wagner.
There’s a recall effort to oust him. He’d do us all a favor to leave the board. At minimum, he could behave in a businesslike manner or, as he bills himself, a professor. He’s probably heard of Robert’s Rules of Order. He should read it.
Herbert Myers, Socorro