To hear State Police talk about staffing, the District 7 office is understaffed, overworked and there are too many miles to patrol for such a small office. Listen to Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative Trustees and staff, they’re a great group of friendly people who just want to make the Co-op better for its member-owners. Altruism all around.

    But if you show up at a Co-op Board meeting, expect to be greeted by several State Police officers. Apparently their work load isn’t what they say, if they can lounge around for a four-hour meeting.

    One of two things is happening on the Co-op Board. Either the majority perceives a physical threat from 60- and 70-year-old member-owners, or the Board lacks leadership to control a simple meeting.

    We’re betting on the latter because first, new Board Chairman Leo Marquez is not proficient in leading a board of any type and second, the Board majority is not shy about threatening member-owners physically nor verbally.

    They’re bullies, they can take care of themselves.

    And since one of our reporters had hands placed on her at a meeting a few months ago and when she objected, State Police ignored her, it stands to reason that they are only there to “protect” the Board majority, not actually keep the peace.

    We don’t know who at State Police Nick Naranjo and his gang convinced to send cops to the member-owner meetings but they need to get back behind the wheel of a patrol car and do their jobs.

    And let’s keep that fact in mind: these are member-owner meetings. Yes, the Board conducts business but it’s supposed to be doing it in front of member-owners. The majority thugs have watered down the policies to the point where member-owners can’t ask questions, can’t request documents and can’t participate in their cooperative but now, they’re also physically not welcome.

    Placing law enforcement of any kind in a meeting has a chilling effect. First Judicial District Judge Bryan Biedschein was asked at an Aug. 16 hearing to force Co-op trustees to remove the cops. He demonstrated he is out of touch when he denied the request and said, “Considering that everybody here today walked past law enforcement to come in here, I hope it’s not having a chilling effect on anybody’s ability to share their candid views or anything else but making sure the peace is kept.”

    Anyone attending court expects to get wanded, pockets emptied and have some snarkey rent-a-cop, or misbehaving cop assigned courthouse duty, eyeball you and act as if they own the courthouse.

    It’s a different atmosphere. You’re not going to speak during a trial or hearing. Dress accordingly. Cell phones off. Follow protocol.

    There’s a bailiff there. But he/she is there to protect the judge, maintain decorum and tackle the first idiot to rush a defendant, plaintiff or officer of the court. Big difference from someone who owns part of their cooperative attending one of their meetings where casual and candid discussions should take place.

    Yes, judge, having State Police scowling in a member-owners meeting has a chilling effect. Member-owners are clear that State Police are there at the behest of the Board majority, hence they work for them.

    If this wasn’t such a waste of taxpayer money, it would be laughable. We have a lot of first hand experience in regard to the inept manner in which State Police and its districts operate. However, sending patrolmen to sit in banal meetings for hours has got to be close to the bottom in lows. This can’t be justified in man-hours nor miles patrolled and citations issued.

    State Police, get out of our Co-op meetings and go do the job for which you were hired and trained. Co-op “leaders,” do the members’ business in public and respond to our requests openly.

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