Wade questions Wagner

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The Wednesday Socorro Electric Cooperative meeting took on elements of a court case as acting board chairman David Wade played inquisitor by shooting questions at board member Charlie Wagner designed to imply Wagner had done something improper subsequent to the Co-op’s District V election.

As soon as the board went into its 5:30 p.m. session, the contention began. As the first thing on the agenda, approving the agenda, was addressed, Wagner protested an agenda item was missing. He said there should be an action item listed to allow Anne Dorough, who won the District V election, to take her seat on the board before Jan. 1 so the people of her district would be fairly represented since they currently have no representation.

Wade said that couldn’t be done as the election hadn’t even been certified yet.

The vote to approve the agenda passed with Wagner opposing the motion.

In another action item on the agenda, the co-op’s District V election, held in October, was to be certified.

“Next we need to certify and report on the District V elections,” Wade said. “But first, I’m going to ask Mr. Wagner a few questions.”

Wade’s first question was: “Did you in your capacity as a trustee contact the co-op’s vendor, Election Services, without disclosing it to the manager or the president of the board?”

“Point of order Mr. Chairman, it’s not on the agenda, sir,” Wagner replied, and refused to answer the question.

After Wade pushed Wagner further to answer the question and Wagner repeated his comment, adding that Wade was out of order, Wade said they need to certify the election and if Wagner didn’t cooperate, they couldn’t. Wade repeated the question another time.

The people in the audience were talking quietly among themselves as they discussed what was happening, and board member Don Walberg suggested if they couldn’t be quiet they should be thrown out.

Wagner suggested the questions be written out and placed on the next agenda.

Wade continued asking questions, implying more and more serious charges as he went along. Each time Wagner refused to respond, Wade would make comments in an attempt to get Wagner to answer, such as, “You do hear me don’t you? You understand what I am saying?”

There were 11 questions, the last one being: “Are you aware that trustees are not to receive any personal benefit from any co-op member?”

Wolberg read a line from an email allegedly sent from Wagner to the election services vendor, “Want to make sure your firm gets the job again for the District 2 and 3 elections in 2013,” Wolberg read.

But even the alleged email, provided by board members, attributes the suggestion to the Reform Committee, not to Wagner, as Wolberg implied.

“There are egregious violations of self-dealing and policy,” Wolberg said and called Wagner an anathema to all the co-ops in the state.

Co-op attorney Lorna Wiggins suggested the board hire independent counsel to look into allegations against Wagner.

“Go ahead and make up all the stuff you want to,” Wagner said. “I’ll listen.”

Wiggins recommended a motion for an independent lawyer to be hired to investigate allegations against Wagner.

Wolberg made a motion to hire appropriate independent counsel to investigate the issues involving Wagner, but Wiggins suggested a different wording for the motion and Wolberg amended his motion to Wiggins’ suggested wording.

“The motion is to authorize me to make a suggestion and bring it back to the board in the December meeting,” Wiggins said.

The board passed the motion with everyone voting “aye” except Wagner who voted “nay.”

Wagner requested a roll call vote, which Wade denied until Wagner pointed out that according to Robert’s Rules of Order, if a roll call is requested by a board member, it has to be done.

“To show I’m a better man than you are, OK,” Wade replied.

After the vote, Wade said he is going to hold off on making the election certification until the meeting in December. There was no vote held to table the action and no vote on the certification of the elections.