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Trustee Warns Board of 'Legal Exposure'

From the 2019 Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative Elections series
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District 5 Trustee Stanley Crawford waits outside the meeting of the voting delegates of the Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative July 21 at the 71st annual member meeting. While he and three other trustees chose to not participate in the meeting, Co-op contract attorney Charles Garcia (not pictured) said they were still able to have a quorum to elect a new executive committee and trustee-at-large.

In his first meeting as president of the Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative Board on July 26, Leo Marquez stopped District 5 Trustee Stanley Crawford from reading an open letter during the public meeting and instead went into executive session.

“Actions taken within the last month by the (Co-op) Board have served to marginalize trustees of Districts 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6, effectively depriving half of the member-owners of the Co-op of representation in important Board decisions and appointments,” the letter states.

Crawford said during a July 30 telephone interview that he does not think the Board will give any further response to his letter, and that he is uncertain what steps he will take next to get his concerns addressed.

“After the executive session, I think business was conducted in a reasonable manner, but you know, I have a lot to learn there,” he said.

His letter stated the Board failed to address issues regarding the conflict of interest and residency for three of the trustees, including District 4 Trustee Lucas Cordova, Marquez and Assistant Secretary-Treasurer and Trustee-at-Large John Tapia.

It is not too late for the Board to address these issues, Crawford wrote.

“Failing to do so will attract the attention of the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, the New Mexico Public (Regulation) Commission, the Office of the New Mexico Secretary of State and the New Mexico Bar Association and the New Mexico Supreme Court,” the letter states. “The legal costs of any actions taken will be borne by the member-owners, costs which the Co-op can ill afford. It’s the Board’s fiduciary responsibility to avoid such legal exposure.”

Marquez did not return a message by press time inquiring about any actions the Board plans to take to address the concerns outlined in Crawford’s letter and why it was necessary for him to read the letter during a closed session.

Crawford’s letter also states there is a possible conflict of interest for Marquez because of his new position as Board president and his role as Rio Arriba County deputy manager.

The Co-op is working with a company named Cuba Jemez, LLC to build a 2.5 -megawatt solar array in Alcalde in partnership with the County. The two held a groundbreaking ceremony for the structure in October 2018.

The array will be built on land owned by the County, Co-op officials said previously.

Marquez has recused himself from several votes regarding the array in his previous position as Co-op Board vice president.

Crawford said his letter contains a mistake regarding the quorum to elect new Board officers after the July 21 annual Co-op member-owner meeting.

“There was a quorum at the organization meeting,” he said.

Co-op Contract Attorney Charles Garcia, of Cuddy & McCarthy, LLP, said during a July 23 telephone interview the meeting was of the voting delegates and not of the elected trustees.

Trustees become voting delegates upon election, the Co-op’s bylaws state.

Due to Duran’s disqualification, there were only nine voting delegates, which means the election of the trustee-at-large could take place with a five person vote, Garcia said.

Copies of the letter were provided to the public by Crawford and left on a table next to a stack of meeting agendas.

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