Letters to the Editor (04/21/2012)
Co-op members had their say
Those of us in the reform group are positively glowing with pride in the members’ response to our pleas for attendance at Saturday’s Socorro Electric Cooperative annual meeting. The people voted in accordance with our recommendations and thus began the process that will eventually result in having the kind of co-op that we all want. And yet…
The members are entitled to know that the trustees interfered with our plans to spend an enjoyable two hours with the attendees prior to the business meeting. Some of us had set up a canopy next to Macey Center where we planned to serve the food and drinks we were offering, in addition to two tables with sample ballots and other handouts. Before 10 a.m., campus police were instructed to tell us that there could be no campaigning within 100 feet of the polling place.
It was our contention that although this rule is observed in all federal, state and local elections, it does not apply to a private member-owned cooperative meeting. The co-op attorney was there and stated her opinion that it most certainly did. The campus police, who were very nice to everyone, were put in the position of having to enforce a ruling that may or may not have been applicable. They tried several times to contact the District Attorney, but he was not available to answer any of their inquiries. We moved our food out under the trees and distributed our literature outside of the 100 foot limit.
We became concerned about the length of the lines of people waiting to vote as the designated 3 p.m. cut-off hour neared. In having worked on an election board many times, I know that in a regular election, when the cut-off hour is reached, an election board member goes out and stands behind the last person in line, and everyone in front of him is allowed to vote. I asked the campus police if this election could be handled that way. Once again, they couldn’t get any advice from the District Attorney.
I don’t know how it was done, as I was in the auditorium, but Mr. Bustamante announced during the meeting that there were a few people who had not been able to vote.
Isn’t it strange? They insist on applying regular election rules in one instance, and apparently not in another.
Anyway, the members were there and they voted the way we hoped they would.
Thank you, thank you everyone.
Now’s the time to come together
Our annual meeting of Socorro Electric Cooperative is over. For some it was a great success, and for others a disappointment. But let us come together now not as adversaries any longer, but as neighbors seeking a system that is workable for us all.
There remain some items to straighten out, such as when and how elections for our new board members can take place, and who will we choose? How long will we allow the former board to meet, make decisions and be paid?
We all recognize that in our zeal to make some changes we weren’t thinking too clearly about all the issues, but perhaps that is part of “grass roots democracy” after all, and the place where good leaders step forward to lead for the good of all.
One item we ought to pursue is the format for the annual business meeting. As it now stands it is too long and cumbersome and has resulted in the past in turning away members who needed to stay and vote to make a quorum.
We surely owe our sincere thanks to the co-op’s staff, who gave of their time and effort to set things up for us. And to all who so unselfishly worked to make this meeting reflective of our will.
Procedures were not followed
Thank you for your clear coverage of the Socorro Electric Cooperative annual meeting last Saturday at the Macey Center. Your reporting was accurate, but Mr. Bustamante’s understanding of events at this meeting were not. I want to clarify a few points:
1. At most meetings, surely “open meetings,” an agenda is presented to the group and they vote to accept, modify, or reject the agenda. This was not done at this meeting.
2. I waited until after the necessary patriotic and religious rituals had occurred and Mr. Bustamante had stated that there was a quorum. Only then did I make a motion to amend the agenda so that new business would be considered before speeches and reports. My motion was seconded. At an open meeting any member can present a motion to be considered by the body present.
3. Mr. Bustamante refused to acknowledge my motion and did not allow any discussion of it. He proceeded with the agenda he had in hand, which had not been accepted by the group. He controlled the microphones and would not let me or others speak to my motion.
The group did not respond positively to his tactics; it was indeed contentious at times. They were clearly not at the Macey Center to hear political speeches, reports, or awards of the board of trustees. It is unfortunate that the president felt a need to control the group as he did. I hope that in the future proper procedures can be followed and true order can be routine at Socorro Electric Cooperative meetings.