Bylaw changes discussed at District V co-op meeting

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The first of the Socorro County Electric Cooperative district meetings took place Oct. 5 in Quemado.

No quorum was established but reports and discussion took place. Fifty-seven registered in District V were needed for a quorum and only 23 member/owners registered. All told, there were about 40 people present.

Co-op Board of Trustees member Prescilla Mauldin was present to talk about a member by-law committee she had created and the results of committee meetings.

Mauldin said the purpose of the committee was to clean up bylaws proposed in 2012 by District V and present them to all the members during the 2013 district meetings.

She said she asked for one person from each of the five districts to be on the committee and the committee met four times — July 9 and 16 and Sept. 15 and 19 — to talk about the proposed bylaws.

The idea, Mauldin said, was to “bring together suggestions by putting bylaws in line with members’ desires.”

She said the idea was to clean up the proposed bylaws to reflect membership intention and fit in with state law.

She said they wanted bylaw revisions that would discourage trustee misuse of power, eliminate contradicting bylaws, move SEC forward, away from divisiveness and that can be voted on during the 2014 general meeting.

District V Ttrustee Anne Dorough said she sent emails to everyone she had addresses for and none of them wanted to be on the bylaw committee and that’s why there was no representative from District V.

“This is not a legitimate way to go about our business,” a District V audience member said later in the meeting. “We go about our business at our district meetings and our annual meetings, we do not have committees like this that are looking to change things we already voted on and put in effect in their own fashion to shape them as the board of trustees and the lawyer would like them to be shaped. This is not legal, this is not representation … we have already voted on the amendments we want passed.”

Charlene Wagner asked if all trustees were contacted for committee membership recommendations. Maulden said they had been but Charley Wagner, District II trustee, said he had not been contacted.

Mauldin responded by telling Wagner it is over and no longer up for discussion.

A member stood up and asked Mauldin why a certain part of the proposed bylaws had been crossed out — the part that caps trustee expenses to $10,000 and $15,000. Mauldin said that should not be crossed out, that those numbers stay the same. Another District V member responded by asking how many other mistakes were in the committee recommendation document.

An audience member asked why the bylaw committee was needed when the District V bylaw recommendations have already been voted in by the members.

Charlie Wagner said the bylaws already include a system to introduce bylaw changes. He called the bylaw committee illegal.

“The purpose of having voting districts is about having members come together and formulate bylaws about changing how the management behaves,” Charlie Wagner said. “Federal law says co-ops are democratically controlled by their members.”

Dorough said the bylaw committee has submitted its version to the members and the members’ committee is asking you how members feel about it.

“Myself, I would like to see the bylaws professionally redone,” she said “I don’t feel like I’m qualified but I am only one vote on the board.

“Prescilla’s approach is to seek your input on how you want to see the bylaws change.”

“I think our district has done our job,” an audience member said. “We elected her, we did our job, it is for the other districts now. This piecemeal changing of the rules is just lawyer fees.”

When another audience member asked what will happen with the proposed changes in the bylaws, and if the member committee would be an ongoing committee, Mauldin said members in districts should let their trustees know what they think of the committee report. Then the member committee could meet again to consider the input they get from the districts.

“We passed in District V (last year) 31 bylaw amendments,” Charlie Wagner said. “They will pass at the annual meeting. The Board of Trustees tried to block those at every turn. The lawyers that we have are allowing the board to violate the bylaws but making the members abide by the bylaws.

Someone in the audience asked, “When is it going to get fixed?”

“One of the most important things to getting things fixed is participation in the meetings,” Dorough said. “If we can’t get a quorum, we can’t do anything.”

To see the member bylaw committee revision document visit www.informedcynic.com and click on Members bylaw committee reports (Part 1 and 2).

James Cherry contributed to this report.