Letters to the Editor (02/01/2012)


You’re paying for attorneys fees
Thanks for the heads up coverage by your reporter regarding the $30,000 bill Socorro Electric Cooperative recently received from the Kennedy & Han law firm (El Defensor Chieftain, Jan. 28, 2012).
When the SEC board of trustees authorized then SEC attorney Dennis Francish to sue all 10,000 members, no trustee asked how much it might cost. They just wanted to disobey the new bylaws. Their habit is to disregard bylaws anyway. But here is something I want every member who pays an electric bill to be aware of ― the co-op pays for insurance that protects the co-op. When the co-op is sued the insurance company will pay lawyers to defend the co-op and any trustees who are sued and will also pay damages if the co-op loses. When the co-op sues someone, as in suing all the members, that cost increases the electric rates and/or reduces the capital you pay into the co-op. There’s no insurance protecting you or your co-op’s assets when the co-op initiates the suit.
Even though Judge Mitchell ruled against the co-op, Mr. Francish and the Kennedy firm get paid by you, even though you won the decision. With a fee rate of $425 per hour, Mr. Kennedy is looking forward to several years of fees as he drags the case on. Those fees will come from the members who pay their electric bills. You can bet his firm is grateful to your disobedient trustees. It seems to me the board’s act of suing all the members is prima fascie evidence of their intention to oppose the best interest of the cooperative corporation. The board thought the judge would allow them to withhold the truth from the member-owners. They were wrong again and owe the members an apology for wasting your co-op’s money.
The struggle to reform this board started in June of 2007 over equal voting rights and representation. You, the member-owners, won big time changing bylaws in April 2010. Your action limiting trustee costs is saving the co-op $380,000 per year. But the board is still working against your interest and against the interest of the cooperative. We can hope the remaining litigation will eventually give you justice. Please continue to pay attention because the board has stubbornly disobeyed the bylaws you approved for more than a year since you put them in effect. The changes they have proposed for this year’s annual meeting prove their bad faith for not willingly carrying out your orders.
Keep reading El Defensor Chieftain and tell your friends so everyone will know what is happening.
Charlie Wagner
District 5 Trustee
Socorro Electric Cooperative, Inc.

Thanks for support of CVCS golfers
The Cottonwood Valley Charter School Golf Team would like to take a moment to give a sincere, from the heart thank you to all of the folks that made this 2011-2012 golf season possible. We’ve been practicing every Friday after school (weather permitting) since Thanksgiving week, and this would not be possible without all of the volunteer hours and donations from our friends.
Sabino Grijalva and the New Mexico Tech Golf Course staff did an absolutely wonderful job of patiently showing our 38 golf team members the basics of good manners and behavior throughout the winter, and their staff simply is the best around. First State Bank has provided the resources to allow our coaches to show the kids what it means to be a Socorro golfer for the past five years now, so we would love to thank Mr. Bursum for all that he’s done for our program.
We had several high school golfers volunteer every week to help coach the kids, along with our always-dependable adult coaches, and this continues to show the younger players that golf does not end as soon as they step off the course — by giving their time and love to the kiddos, these high school golfers epitomize what it means to make the world a better place when they lead by example, and our young golfers do notice this every practice!
Other anonymous folks have donated golf balls, supplies and time to the team over the years. We won’t name any names here, but these people know who they are and are just the greatest neighbors in the world.
Despite the snow, rain and frigid wind we’ve experienced over the past two months, the team really has had a very successful season, and it’s all due to the big hearts we experience every day all over Socorro! Thanks again, and we’ll be back next November!
Dennis Walsh
Golf Coach
Cottonwood Valley Charter School

Book about refuge provides insight
My compliments to Lisa Alvarado for her fine review in El Defensor Chieftain on Wednesday, Jan. 18, of the informative new book “Bosque del Apache: A Brief History” and author Robyn Harrison. Robyn has done a great service in assembling the story of a land grant and how it became one of America’ premier wildlife refuges.
I want to correct a couple of minor errors. The review indicates that it was the Bureau of Land Management that took possession of the land when it was acquired by the federal government in 1936. Actually, it was the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey, predecessor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as the book correctly states.
Alvarado quotes Harrison as saying the Bureau “had no idea of what flora or fauna it (the land) held.”  Technically, this is correct; actually, the grant was carefully surveyed and classified before it was purchased. I have a copy of the survey map which classifies the ground cover (greasewood, pinon, grass, etc.) of every one of the 52,843 acres purchased, and assigns recommended values based on the type of cover or use. The $2.17 per acre paid was a composite of these values. The survey also assigned a value to existing “improvements”, which included a dilapidated 10-room hotel at the incorporated town of Elmendorf across present Highway 1 from the refuge visitor center.
“Bosque del Apache: A Brief History” provides an interesting insight for Bosque’s birders and an excellent resource for the historically inclined.
John Bertrand
Luis Lopez