Co-op still trying to determine if District V resolutions legal

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During the June 26 Socorro Electric Cooperative meeting, Trustee Pricilla Mauldin read out a statement regarding bylaw changes.

She said the bylaw changes brought up by the members of District V, known as the District V resolutions, are a commendable attempt to make some needed changes and the bylaws certainly need revising.

But, she said, some of the proposed resolutions have language issues and some don’t conform to law. There are two issue of concern, she said. There needs to be a special meeting where the resolutions are voted up or down by the membership.

“Some need to be voted down,” Mauldin said. “Not because they are bad ideas, but because some of the language doesn’t conform to New Mexico law or is already restricted.”

The cooperative needs an effective system for the bylaws to be changed, she said.

“We are a membership cooperative, members count,” Mauldin said. “The District V resolutions have quality ideas that need our support.”

Mauldin said she supports about a third of the proposed resolutions, a third need word improvements and the remaining third need additional thought. Most of the final third she said she agrees with, but they need to comply with state law.

Mauldin proposed a member bylaw committee, with one member from each district and two trustees to reconstruct bylaw changes.

Holding the intent of positive change is important, she said, and a committee is a “critical start” to working together to solve bylaw issues.

Trustee Charlie Wagner said he thinks the bylaws already give the members a way to change the bylaws. Changing the bylaws is exclusively the area of the members. Members change the bylaws by voting on them at a district meeting so they can be brought to the ballot at the co-op annual meeting.

“The problem is that in 2012 and in 2013 the law firm that represents the trustees would not allow us to vote on the bylaws that were offered by districts and they would not allow us to vote on the bylaws from the floor of the meetings,” Wagner said. “Those actions by the attorney or by the administration interfere with the bylaws by not allowing the members to do what the bylaws require them to do.”

The proper place to propose changes to the bylaws is at the district meetings, Wagner said.

Trustee Anne Dorough asked if the June 8 meeting, a continuation of the annual meeting, was going to be considered a quorum or not.

“A determination as to whether there was a quorum is necessary to know before we know if they have already voted on these amendments,” Dorough said. “What do we have to do to get an independent ruling on whether or not there was a quorum and whether or not the District V amendments have been approved for the 2014 ballot?”

Co-op attorney Bruce Wiggins started talking about concerns and advice. He said they believe a number of the proposals that were voted on during the District V meeting (Oct. 27, 2012) were never adopted properly because there was not a quorum present when they were adopted. He said some resolutions passed after the quorum failed.

He also said it is the co-op board members’ opinion that in the May 15 annual meeting and the reconvened annual meeting, there was never a quorum at the point the District V resolutions were to be considered because they believe the bylaw that counts mail-in ballots toward a quorum is unlawful.

Wiggins said a member could bring a lawsuit in order to determine if the mail-in bylaw amendment is valid or not.