Letter to the Editor (10/10/2012)


Do co-op trustees use money wisely?
“It shall be the aim of THE SOCORRO ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, INC. to make electric energy available to its members at the lowest cost consistent with sound economy and good management.”
The above words are the mission statement at the beginning of the Socorro Electric Cooperative bylaws. I have perused this and the bylaws that follow it trying to find where the Trustees found the authority to invest member funds as venture capital. Let me explain.
It was announced at the monthly meeting held Aug. 29, 2012, that an individual owning 500 plus acres in District One was desirous of utilizing that land as a wind farm. He was offering the cooperative the “opportunity” of funding a feasibility study to determine if this were possible. Such study was estimated to cost approximately $5,000. When or if such a study proved the wind farm viable and when or if construction of the wind farm commenced, the funds (with no interest) would be returned to the SEC. The matter was tabled for further study.
Miraculously, at the next meeting on Sept. 26, 2012, an agreement drawn by the SEC attorney between the SEC and the individual appeared on the agenda for approval. A motion was made and seconded to approve the agreement. When one trustee questioned the existence of a policy for such agreements, he was told that no policy existed nor was one needed. The agreement was approved 7-1.
In my opinion, the use of member funds to perform feasibility studies in alternative energy is not consistent with the goals of the cooperative. It is neither sound economy nor good management.  Please contact the trustee for your district and request that the motion be rescinded.
Anne Dorough
Pie Town
SEC election determined by yard lights
Late night thoughts after the SEC District IV meeting:
I came away with the impression that the outcome of the election was determined by yard lights. Many genuine members voted, but also some votes were cast by people who just have yard lights in their names. The term “members” might lead you to think of individuals or families who have a membership for their home. Turns out it’s not that simple. When a particular vote was being taken, for ease of counting they had the members stand in turn. I noticed that Milton Ulibarri was standing to vote. He does not live in District IV; he is a Trustee from District III. So I said, “sit down, Milton.” Then Mr. Wade informed me that Mr. Ulibarri has a yard light in District IV. You call this membership? I don’t. This is selfish abuse, and if it is in fact tolerated by the current rules, those rules should be changed. Further, I have heard that some families have yard lights, each in a different name, on the same premises as legitimate memberships held by other members of a family, thus garnering extra votes. This is a naughty no-no, too.
Another matter that is in the rules but was apparently ignored is the fact that members whose accounts are in arrears are not entitled to vote. While there was a mechanism to ensure that people who got mail-in ballots did not also vote in person, a similar list should have been at hand for applying the rule about arrears. It appears that this was not done If there were four or more such accounts, then this itself makes the entire election tainted, and it should be thrown out; there is no verifiable way to disallow particular ballots.
The member-owners voted at the famous Annual Meeting that their affairs be conducted in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order (which at this time would be Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, 11th Edition (“RONR”) (www.robertsrules.com/). If any older rules conflict with RONR then they were nullified by the members’ vote. A thorough examination of the Co-op’s rules is in order with this in mind.
Eric K. “Bear” Albrecht, Member-Owner, District IV, San Antonio

An opinion does not make it so
On Oct. 4, Mr. Herb Myers responded to an article I wrote. I greatly appreciate the time and effort he took to do so. Interestingly, he missed or ignored the point of the article.
The article was not about my faith — I do believe in the Almighty — or my politics — I am unapologetically Conservative. It was about the fact that we as a nation believe that God exists. Every year since the 1940s, The Gallup Poll has asked Americans a simple question: “Do you believe in God?” Every year the result has been: 9 out of 10 Americans say, “Yes I do.”
This is a very large voting bloc, and wisdom would dictate that a political party would seek to woo them just as they do the poor, women, or minority blocs. Unfortunately, one party (Democrat) pointedly attempted to ignore the religious demographic in their party platform this presidential cycle. They further embarrassed themselves trying to rectify the situation on national television.
Mr. Myers also points out that our founders were flawed individuals. They were indeed. However, the “flawed” George Washington rightly said:
“Religion and morality are the essential pillars of a civil society.”
A flawed human being does not indicate the absence of the Almighty. Quite likely, a strong argument can be made for the direct opposite.
Mr. Myers was also correct in stating that I am a former Marine. I stood ready then, as I do now, to defend his God-given right to express his opinion. I knew then, as I do now, that his opinion does not necessarily make it so.
God Bless
Gene Brown