Co-op annual meeting cut short, Wolberg presentation shut down by members



The annual members meeting of the Socorro Electric Cooperative took place May 15 at Finley Gym in Socorro.

At 3 p.m., after introductions and an opening address by SEC general manager Joseph Herrera, board of trustees President Luis Aguilar said there are 9,528 members of the co-op and 286 are needed for a quorum.

He said 185 mail-in ballots were returned and 396 people voted on site at the polls, thus creating a quorum for the meeting.

During committee reports, trustee Donald Wolberg began a PowerPoint presentation of the bylaw committee report. He began by explaining the electric co-op system and pointed out most of the co-ops in New Mexico have more than five people on their boards.

SEC’s members had voted for a five-member board at a previous annual meeting and, while currently there are still seven members, ultimately there will be five as attrition takes out trustees in obsolete positions.

The membership applauded when Wolberg said there are only five members on SEC’s board, but he went on to imply there should be more.

“The problem here is that, with the low number of trustees, is that no member of the SEC board will ever have an influential place on national or regional cooperative board groupings because they can’t be there long enough to know what’s happening,” Wolberg said. “We will never have a significant place at any table.”

Wolberg went on to say SEC is bigger than eight states in terms of area, and it has 41,000 power poles and 3,500 miles of line.

Then Wolberg began addressing bylaw change resolutions introduced and approved by District V members during their district meeting.

He started on the first one to explain why it should not be passed during the next annual meeting.

Wolberg was stopped from the floor by audience member James Lear claiming “point of order.”
“It seems to me this should be taken up under new business,” Lear said.

Aguilar said it was permitted because it was the secretary’s report.

Arf Epstein, from the floor, raised a point of order.

“This is not a report,” he said. “This is a partisan discussion about whether certain proposed bylaws should be passed. It is not a report; a report does not say ‘this is what you should do for this election.’”

Aguilar again insisted Wolberg was sharing a report.

Trustee Charles Wagner appealed Aguilar’s decision to the assembly; his appeal was seconded. But the discussion continued to go back and forth until Georgette Grey stood to talk for a minute.

“A report does not contain editorializing viewpoints,” Grey said. “It is a straightforward, factual statement and does not have any persuasive argument attached to it. If the report can be stated that way, we want to hear it; if not, it is not a report.”

Aguilar than asked for a vote.

“All those in favor of sustaining the decision of the chair say ‘Aye,’” he said.

No one said “Aye.” Numerous members cried “No” when he asked for nos.

Wolberg was not allowed to continue.

During the treasurer’s report, trustee Leo Cordova said the co-op has $69,856,681 in total assets; $69,856,681 in liabilities; $25,145,810 in revenue; $23,240,150 total expenses and a net income of $1,905,651 for the year.

Leo Cordova, Dave Wade and Anne Dorough reported on their district meetings, thanking the members who elected them and saying members are welcome to call them anytime on any concerns they have.

After some confusion whether a quorum of members was still present when the new business portion of the agenda came up, co-op attorney Lorna Wiggins declared there was no quorum and there could be no vote on the District V resolutions.

The meeting was adjourned to be re-set on the second Saturday of June and held at the Macey Center at New Mexico Tech if possible.

Continue to watch for more on what happened at the annual meeting.