Letters to the Editor

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Co-op meeting lacked data
Editor:
I, too, was at the purported informational meeting sponsored by SEC on Jan. 21, and, like Mr. May, found it to be not all that informative.
As he noted in his Feb. 1 letter to El Defensor Chieftain, there was no information on hand, save what Catt Cobb, rate analyst, and Interim Manager Richard Lopez chose to provide verbally.

Unlike Mr. May, however, I don’t believe that Ms. Cobb was duped or hampered by the co-op, but believe that she was a willing part of the duplicity: a deliberate attempt to obfuscate the impact this rate increase will have on our community and why it is necessary.
For those of you unable to attend the meeting, Ms. Cobb spent approximately 40 minutes of the allotted hour explaining why new construction is needed and that the rate increase is the only way to finance a much-needed expansion in Catron County. She pointed out that the rate increase requested is reasonable based on rates paid in neighboring counties and relative to the increase in the cost of beans since 1996. Little was offered in the way of specifics. No one with whom I have spoken wants to leave Catron County in the dark, but it is difficult to understand how another co-op’s rates affect what we pay. What we need to know is what our expenditures are. It’s just basic economics.
I attended this informational meeting because I had been alerted by someone who suggested that those with off-peak rate meters were going to get hit hard. When questioned specifically about the rate increase faced by persons with this meter, Ms. Cobb and Mr. Lopez exchanged glances before Richard took over, remarking that I had raised a “good question” and that those meters are under utilized.
I pressed the issue and again asked for specifics about how the rate increase would affect me specifically.
I was again put off. I was told I could pick up a copy of all the proposed rate changes at the co-op office on Manzanares Street, and I allowed myself to be mollified with a vague statement that “yes, my base rate will increase “like everyone else” as will be my kilowatt hour charge.”
“A misrepresentation of the truth,” my father would have said. My base rate will be $16 per month, not $15. And my kilowatt hour charge will also be greater. Mr. Lopez and Ms. Cobb must have known this and deliberately evaded my query.
Yes, Ms. Cobb works with many co-ops to analyze rates but, coincidentally, works for SGS Engineering, the company who does the capital improvements for SEC. If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Of course, she believes we need the increase, because she sees that we can’t seem to pay our bills with our current rate structure. She doesn’t, however, address how our budget affects our bottom line.
What neither Ms. Cobb, nor Mr. Lopez were able to tell us is how the money we currently pay for utilities is spent, even though members have asked repeatedly. Nor did they tell us how this increase compares to any increase in per capita income in our co-op since 1996. Mr. Lopez, under duress, did admit that we were $400,000 in arrears on repayments to our loans, which is not coincidental to having paid the board of directors $450,000 for their service to our co-op, including filing frivolous lawsuits against members. He also noted that the monthly bill that we pay Mr. Francish to sue the members is a budgeted item. I didn’t ask if that money is also in arrears but I seriously doubt it.
Until SEC board members stop wasting our money by attempting to keep the status quo and start following our bylaws, we, as members, have a duty to protest a rate increase. No matter how much more we are willing to pay for beans, we should resist and protest this hijacking of our co-op. For those of you as new to the protest as am I, www.informedcynicc.com has updates of current events and offers a copy of the form that should be used for an official protest of the rate hike. Please remember all protests must first go to SEC.
There are those who have suggested to me that if our co-op is taken over and sold to PNM, resulting in job loses to our community, it is the fault of the people who are fighting for reform. I say to you: the blame rests solely with the current board of directors who continue to threaten our co-op by acting against the wishes of the members.
I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid, but I do intend to buy the T-shirt.
Martha Rimmel, Socorro


Thanks, Socorro, for your help
Editor:
We had been to Socorro numerous times — either passing through, touring some of the interesting sites, shopping or dining.  
However, it was not until we were in an accident on I-25 on the afternoon of Jan. 18, did we focus on the fine people you have in your county. In our quest to personally thank those who assisted us on that day, various city employees were so kind and helpful in helping us find some of the following locations:  Deputy Sheriff KC McFadden; Socorro Ambulance Rescue Team — Mark Haley, Mario Amaro, Ramon Cameron, Ray Calkins, and Tim Gutierrez; Socorro General Hospital — Bobbie, Scott, Dr. Reid and others; and Baca Towing.  
We were blessed to have had not only OnStar, but also three witnesses who stopped and helped until Deputy McFadden and rescue arrived, including the New Mexico State Police which was almost instantaneously!  
The total loss of our travel trailer and extensive damage to our truck is devastating, but we praise the Lord that no one else was involved in the accident, nor were we seriously injured. Our guardian angels were watching over us that day!  
Thank you, Socorro, for being there when we were in need.
Art and Eileen Clor, Belen


Community stepped up
Editor:
Just one quick shout out to all the people from Socorro who helped with shelters and such during the storm — way to show people that there is still courtesy and hospitality in small towns.
It is awesome how the community came together and made all the stranded people feel welcome! You just don’t see that often anymore.
Colette Wills, Socorro


This is tobacco prevention month
Editor:
February is tobacco prevention month. American Cancer Society Fact: Americans could prevent about one-third of all cancers by not using tobacco. Pretty amazing statistic, don’t you agree?
During the past three years the ACS Cancer Action Network has played a significant role in statewide smoke-free campaigns to protect the health of millions of people from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. So far the smoke-free campaigns have achieved 23 smoke-free states, plus Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.  
This effort is ongoing and more states are working to enact similar laws. This means 57 percent of the population currently lives under smoke-free laws at the local and state level now, and that number will increase.
ACS is also making it easier for individual smokers to quit. There are kits to help smokers quit once and for all. Just call 1-800-ACS-2345 or go online to www.cancer.org.
Together we can help our loved ones, co-workers, friends and community quit tobacco for good.
Sandra Noll and the Socorro Relay for Life Team