Co-op resolutions voted in Saturday

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The annual meeting of the Socorro Electric Cooperative was held on June 8 after being continued by a vote at the end of the May 15 meeting.

As the meeting got started at 3 p.m., it was announced there were 142 people who registered. People present who had previously sent in mail-in ballots were not allowed to register in person for the meeting because they had not been at the previous one.

Elva K. Österreich/El Defensor Chieftain: Socorro Electric Cooperative member/owner Marie Watkins writes out an amendment to the bylaws during the continuation of the annual co-op meeting June 8.

There were 189 mail-in ballots submitted at the original meeting, so only 97 in-person members were actually needed to fill the requirements for a quorum, if the mail-in ballots are allowed to count. There are 9,528 members of the co-op and 286 are needed for a quorum.

There is disagreement as to whether the mail-in ballots count because, according to co-op attorneys, state law allows only for in-person participation at annual meetings to make a quorum.

“It is our opinion as counsel that mail-in ballots cannot be counted towards a quorum,” said attorney Bruce Wiggins. “However, because that issue would not be resolved here today by me or you or anybody but a judge at some point in time in the future, our suggestion is to continue the meeting and deal with each of the resolutions and move that problem down the road so to speak.”

Wiggins also pointed out if the number of present members eligible to vote dropped to below 97, there would be no quorum.

So the meeting continued with the overhanging understanding that it might not count if the mail-in ballots are later determined to not count toward a quorum.

Trustee Charlie Wagner, who positioned himself on the floor with the member-owners rather than in his seat on the stage, moved the 31 by-law resolutions suggested by the District V members be approved in totality. The motion was overwhelmingly passed by the member/owners present.

Board president Luis Aguilar then suggested the resolutions be discussed one at a time. Parliamentarian Adam Hathaway explained the usual procedure would be to discuss each resolution one by one and then vote on them as a block.

From the floor, member/owner Richard “Arf” Epstein called for the question, was seconded, and the vote was called to pass the 31 resolutions immediately.

“Let’s end debate and vote on all of these right now,” Epstein said. He was seconded by numerous voices.

So Aguilar called for the question saying all those in favor would be voting to include the District V bylaw resolutions on the ballot at next year’s annual meeting.

The crowd immediately protested loudly, Wagner stood to explain why the vote should apply immediately rather than waiting until the 2014 meeting to pass. Co-op attorneys explained that they feel the vote can’t apply immediately.

Finally the debate ended as the members went ahead and voted to place the resolutions on next year’s ballot.

Aguilar asked for a motion to adjourn several times over the meeting and was laughed down each time by the members in the audience.

Other motions made and passed during the meeting included:

  • Censuring the board for not putting the District V resolutions on the ballot for the 2013 annual meeting.
  • Checking co-op voter rolls for accuracy six weeks before any scheduled election and 30 days before any election a copy of the complete member list with service addresses will be available at Socorro Electric Cooperative offices for any member to examine.
  • Amending Article III, Section 2 special meetings of the bylaws, inserting “or” in the amendment to clarify the board president does have the power to call a special meeting, an issue that was debated several times over the course of the meeting.

Several bylaw suggestions were voted on but there was no place suggested for the addition. Hathaway suggested to the audience that in the future they should find a place to insert the item they are voting on, by including the article and section where the bylaw should be placed.

Wagner moved to adjourn the meeting and explained there is a petition going around to get 10 percent of the membership to sign in order to call a special meeting to put the District V and other resolutions passed Saturday in place. The petition is available on line at www.informedcynic.com.