Letters to the Editor
State gives us legal course of action
In his recent ruling against the SEC trustees’ lawsuit against their own members, Judge Mitchell stated we must uphold a standard of “decent” behavior in our meetings. “Decent” is subject to interpretation, just as honesty, integrity, and good faith are played out in various ways.
Certainly, the members of the co-op seeking those qualities in their board trustees have found them lacking over several years of financial decline at the co-op. What impact has the paucity of good faith had on the co-op’s losses and its ability to meet its obligations?
Article 14 of the Socorro Electric Cooperative’s bylaws allow members to hold liable, in court, individual trustees if they’ve acted recklessly or with willful misconduct. Article 14 refers us to N.M. statute 62-15-9.1 where Duties of Trustees are required to be carried out “in good faith” and with “such care as an ordinarily prudent person” would use.
His Honor ruled that actions taken by the trustees since April, 2010, would be invalidated by their willful disregard of the bylaws passed by the membership. They sued the members and forced them to pay for suing themselves at the behest of their attorney, Dennis Francish.
All this while the co-op’s finances suffered and managerial misconduct multiplied. The trustees manipulated elections and squashed every effort by members to assist them in correcting their course.
I would say that is lack of “good faith” and is “reckless disregard” no “ordinarily prudent person” would take nor approve.
Board President Paul Bustamante and his inner circle have dragged their feet at implementing the changes voted in the new bylaws. They’ve sought loopholes to continue lining their pockets while the co-op struggles to make ends meet. They’ve resisted getting the board down to five trustees with scheme after scheme … all with the counsel of Franchish and his ubiquitous billings at $250/hour. Sound like the management of “an ordinarily prudent person?”
Last spring, auditors confronted Bustamante with the knowledge of previous general manager Polo Pineda’s and accountant Kathy Torres’ manipulation of a co-op “loan” program. This happened in May, 2010, but no action was taken to remove Pineda and Torres until late August, 2010. Three months for further records manipulation and questionable activity designed to further what objectives? Not “prudent.” Not “good faith.” Reckless? Willful misconduct?
The terms, “decent, honest, and integrity” don’t ring anywhere close to this board of trustees history. When RUS holds up the Socorro Electric Co-op as the poster child for how to not run an electric cooperative, changes are in order. When “ordinarily prudent persons” are in short supply at the board of trustees, and their attorney is the prime source of their strategies, the state gives us a legal course of action.
Which trustees do we find in “reckless disregard” and fond of “willful misconduct”? Look up N.M. Statutes 62-15-9.1, Duties of Trustees.
All of this puts me in mind of an ancient bushmens’ method for capturing monkeys. Place food in a narrow-necked jar, well-anchored, and allow the monkey to reach into the jar and grab a handful of the food. With the food clenched in his fist the monkey can’t withdraw his hand — he’s stuck. If he’d only release the object of his greed he’d get out and away.
Herbert Myers, Socorro
Not sold on Tri-State brochure
Everyone got an expensive four-color brochure from Tri-State promoting themselves and their agenda.
We need to think twice before we blindly accept their premise. They do not want the EPA or anyone else to regulate them. They want to continue to pollute our air for the sake of less expensive electricity. If we can’t breathe, we don’t need cheaper electricity.
They do not promote more green energy or innovation. They do not promise to spend less on themselves or advertising Tri-State on TV. They do not promote ways for consumers to save on power use. They have no plans to help us purchase our own solar panels to ADD electricity to the grid.
None of us can afford higher priced electricity, but it is going to happen anyway, whether or not we agree with them. They can do far better than simply opposing regulation.
Barbara Moore, Magdalena