Mabel at the Harwood and Art News

20 July, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

Harwood's Mixed Messages On the one hand the Harwood Museum of Art Show recognizes and portrays Mabel (Ganson Evans Dodge Sterne) Luhan as a progenitor of modernism and proto-feminist, the doyenne of political and artistic influence, affecting Taos and the Southwest, and perhaps the greater narrative of modernism, and its thematic variations or “manifestoes.” Mabel, as a Salon hostess, gathered round her the luminaries of early 20th Century glitterati from the rather small world of art, literature, and progressive politics, and had ...

Town Planning and Zoning: the Presence of Absence

8 July, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

A Cultural Report on the Culture of Taos government Long and Boring, like a P&Z Meeting Sure, on the evening of July 6, 2016, the Town of Taos regular meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission was held. There were five items on the agenda. One item passed: a permit for a small business (hair removal and personal products) located in a longtime commercial building in a residential area on Camino de la Placita, north of the Valverde, Placita, Lund intersection. Only ...

Kick the Can: History Unfolds abroad and at home

27 July, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

(Part I) When I watch the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, the young Bernie faces, so passionate and engaged, remind me of the desperate days of Chicago ’68, when Mayor Daley unleashed the police riots, provoking demonstrators on the floor of the convention and in the streets. The Chicago riots focused on the opposition to Vietnam, the inequity seen in the poor people’s brigade, and the Black Panther protest. Today we see the Bush-Obama endless wars, the culmination of the Clinton-Bush-Obama systemic corporate commodification of taxpayers on behalf of the 1%, and the rise of Black Lives Matter issue in reaction to white supremacy and police violence. The issue of “blowback” comes to mind: the downing of the World Trade Center due to foreign policy blunders and the gunning down of Dallas and Baton Rouge Cops, due to aberrant individuals in response to cold-blooded ...

Coop News and Jailhouse Blues

21 July, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

This journalist congratulates J.R. Logan and Cody Hooks of The Taos News for writing (at last, alas) a series of revealing stories about the KCEC. As one of about 8 interveners in KCEC’s rate request case, now in the process of being heard and not being heard by the PRC, I used stories from The Taos News in response to hostile interrogatories about where I got information for Taos Friction: information on KCEC’s $100 million dollar debt, for instance, and news about KCEC’s intention to borrow more money to finish the Broadband project (about $7 to 12 million). Why I read all about it  in the weekly news. However, this morning’s headlines, “Co-op, PRC staff reach settlement terms in rate case” is less a fact than wishful thinking on the part of the above-mentioned parties. Certainly, the Coop and the PRC ...

APD Slaps Sopyn in Jail

6 July, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

Judge Sets “$200,000” Cash Bond Danger to Community Shortly after Judge McElroy let Mick Sopyn fly away “one more time” on June 23, despite having “violated conditions of release” several times, including getting busted in Albuquerque for DWI, the perp “violated” again on 28 June, 2016, about five days after playing the Judge for a “sucker.” His words not mine. (See Taos Friction post below, 1 July 2016, “The Scofflaw and the Judge.) According to APD officer Patricia Young in the criminal complaint, “Sopyn backed his truck into her [the victim’s] vehicle on June 28. The officer ran Sopyn’s information and discovered he also had a revoked driver’s license. “Sopyn stated he knew he wasn’t supposed to be driving.” On the same day, June 28, Judge McElroy in Taos had signed a court order defining Sopyn’s “conditions of release,” which included a “Scram” device (bracelet) ...

The Scofflaw and the Judge

1 July, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

“I was taken for a sucker.” Judge McElroy District Court, June 23, 2016 On Thursday afternoon, June 23, 2016, a few minutes past 2:30 pm, Judge Jeff McElroy convened District Court to hear the “motion to revoke conditions of release” in the matter of State vs. Micola (Mick) Sopyn, case No. D-820-201400180. The Judge said he understood that there’s a “proposed resolution.” Prosecutor Ron Olsen (the third in a succession of prosecutors) sat stage left and represented the DA’s office. Attorney Dan Marlowe, stage right, represented defendant Micola (Mick) Sopyn, the subject of the hearing. Sopyn was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Amber Hava and tampering with evidence in the same incident on July 11, 2014. The defendant, Mr. Sopyn, had entered the courtroom in a wheel chair, pushed by a friend, prior to the Judge’s emergence from chambers. The bailiff ...

Kit Carson Coop: Beneath the Surface and Under the Stars

22 June, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

As an intervenor in the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (Coop) request for a rate increase I have signed a confidentiality agreement. The agreement, however, is full of holes and contradictions. For instance, certain information in my first set of interrogatories was denied due to “confidentiality.” After signing the agreement and submitting a second set of interrogatories, some of that same information was referred to as already having been surrendered in my first set. We intervenors are representing ourselves “pro-se” while the Coop is represented by and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on the Cuddy-McCarthy law firm. From a member’s perspective, I believe the Coop is using the PRC and its lawyers primarily as a way of covering up the failures of “diversification” (Call Center, Command Center, Propane, Internet, Broadband). Millions of dollars and thousands of hours have been spent on ...

Friction Endorses Hope v. Hate (v. The Status Quo)

1 June, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

Bernie Sanders offers a vision of hope, based on the best of America’s New Deal past even as Donald Trump stimulates hate based on fear of the future. Given the Memorial Day just past in which we honor not war but the veterans of war, a reader points out the Politico.com story wherein Trump commented on John McCain: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Trump received four student deferments from military service between 1964 and 1968, according to Politico.com. Trump, the fear-mongering candidate, panders to vets and angry mobs. Just as he was too selfish to serve then, now he refuses to release his tax returns, which would reveal the ruthless side of the American Entrepreneur. The ruthless businessman turned “Reality TV show candidate” presents the New ...

Taosenos Shun Los Politicos

13 May, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

Dark Days in Taos The Boycott The Hispanic community and other interested locals have given up on local politics. As J.R. Logan in The Taos News says, “Low turnout marks Kit Carson Board election.” Voting in recent elections for District 1, the Taos Valley, has declined from 1900 in 2011 to 1506 in 2012 to 1334 in 2013 to 851 in 2016. Taosenos are shunning the Coop. The pyrrhic victories by Luisa Mylet and Bob Bresnahan in this year’s election over Jason Silva, a member of the school board and Andrew Chavez, a former county commissioner, make the point that members are disgusted with the incompetence and corrupt practices not only at the Coop but throughout the community. Another story in the Taos News is headlined: “Taos Middle School to restructure after failing grade.” A grade of “F” was issued to the middle school, ...

The Lone Ranger, Tonto, and a Silver Bullet at the Coop

6 May, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

Yesterday, at Smith’s grocery store I met the Lone Ranger. The modern version substitutes sunglasses for a mask and a cap for a cowboy hat. He said his name was Bob Bresnahan, candidate for the Coop Board of Trustees. I knew better.  The silver-tongued talker alluded to use of “silver bullets,” symbolic of solutions forged today by the gods of green energy. He responded with practiced answers on controversial topics associated with the Coop’s optimistic plans for the future. His companion, Tonto, below,  hovers behind the scenes in his office, KCEC HQ in “Barrio Cruz Alta.”  1) About the Tri-State contract buyout of some $38 million, Bob presented me with thumb and forefinger curled in a circle, almost touching one digit to the next, saying that KCEC was this close to a deal and could buy electrical energy at half the price Tri-State ...

PRC Fines KCEC, Candidates for Coop Elections set

29 April, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

$2000 Fine by the Public Regulation Commission. Mismanagement (Again) In an order which granted “the application of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, Inc. ("Kit Carson" or "KCEC") to continue its fuel and purchased power cost adjustment clause ("FPPCAC") as part of its approved tariff for electric service to its customers,” the PRC also fined the Coop for a missed deadline. The order, dated, April 20, 2016, says: “A $2,000 fine is assessed against KCEC for failure to timely file its Application for continued used of its FPPCAC within 4 years pursuant to Rule 550.17.A.” The order also includes a paragraph, listing the Coop’s previous “missed deadlines.” “The Commission finds that KCEC has been untimely in filing its FPPCAC continuation filings repeatedly and accordingly finds that KCEC should be sanctioned. In KCEC 's 2002 continuation filing, Case No. 3773, the Commission ordered a $2,000 fine for ...

The Loyal Opposition Weighs Options

17 April, 2016
By: Contributor

Farmer’s Market Taos: A Festival of Ordinance Violations From the Desk of Pascual Maestas Tuesday’s Town Council meeting was everything one would have expected in traditional Taos fashion: passionate arguments on both sides followed by hasty, emotional decision making on the part of the Council without thorough legal review or economic analysis. I will leave the economic analysis out in this opinion piece, the numbers simply aren’t in to crunch (although we received promises that they will be: we shall see). Instead, there are some legal gray areas that aren’t really that gray.   Town Attorney, Floyd Lopez, incorrectly called the Ordinance 5.08.070 preventing any fiesta, carnival, or festival from shutting down the streets around the plaza a resolution. He then claimed that the current administration was not bound by the resolutions passed during previous administrations. Although this is correct, the ordinance is an ...

Town Administers “Coup de Grace” to Merchants

13 April, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly Judi in Wonderland The Bad On Tuesday, April 12, 2016 the Town Council, not the mayor, not the manager, but Councilors Hahn, Evans, and Fernandez delivered the Coup de Grace (death blow) to the Plaza Merchants. In view of the Council, it's time for the Plaza Merchants to enter the realm of rigor mortis. They need a billionaire who can afford the upgrades. According to anecdotal estimates and testimony about 70% of merchants oppose not the Farmer’s Market but the closure of streets to traffic, which, according to observers and the evidence, reduces revenue. While approving a three-year contract with the Farmer’s Market group, the Council affirmed the Mayor and Manager’s “arbitrary and capricious” authority to implement a patchwork vision based on cultural evens like Xmas tree lights and pig sticking. The Manager asked Interim Chief Maggio to testify ...

Taos at Risk

12 April, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

If today’s agenda is a guide, the Town of Taos may provide a forum for a renewed conversation about the future of the community at 3 pm. Two items on the agenda could stimulate the discussion, while a third and a fourth, see postscript below, are being ignored. The Farmer’s Market appears headed back to the Plaza but the devil, personified by Rick Bellis, is in the details. Fresh food and the Farmer’s Market signal a rebirth of ideas, self-sufficiency and a renewed interest in indigenous commerce. But trouble is brewing because the pre-election council, Mayor and Manager, ignored the conflict posed by the Plaza Merchants. While the Bent St. and Dunn House merchants see the Market as a plus because it revives interest by locals in their shops, many of whom are closely related to the “new demographic,” the brick and ...

Letter from the Front: Insurgents fight for the Souls of Two Parties

3 April, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

By now it’s a commonplace that the frightened GOP establishment is fighting a hostile take-over by media reality candidate, Donald Trump. The Wisconsin primary on Tuesday might provide a bump in the road as the fanatical Cruz supporters are expected to turn out and give the Evangelical wing a victory. In either case, Trump and Cruz are symbolic of GOP extremism and the tendency toward fascism, supported by a GOP. This is a GOP, which refuses to participate in the traditional and constitutional duty to govern as elected representatives and has reversed the historic gains of average Americans going back to the New Deal age of Franklin Roosevelt.   Meanwhile the Democratic party establishment, led by the Obama/Clinton wing is becoming more and more nervous by the day as insurgent supporters, led by Bernie Sanders reject the twenty-year tilt toward reactionary Republican politics, ...

Taos Town Council Finds its Voice: Super Store Cabal Shut Down!

19 March, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

  According to reports, Councilor Cantu moved to deny rezoning for the “secret” Smith’s Super Store Cabal on Thursday, March 17, 2016. Councilor Evans seconded the motion and Councilor Fernandez voted in favor. Only Councilor Hahn, the one-time anti-corporate anti-big box activist, who has flipped and follows the lead of the Bellis-Barrone secret doings, voted against Judi’s motion. (You might remember how two years ago Councilor Cantu was "abused" by the Cabal and an ignorant and hysterical mob (mostly Angloists). Yet Judi, "steady as she goes" supports  Taos and Taosenos as she sees it, regardless of who shows up to hearings.) We who believe in small town democracy and work toward self-determination are grateful to the three council members. In their first public act of consequence, Councilors Nathaniel Evans and Darien Fernandez have proven themselves equal to the task by restoring “transparency” and ...

Taos: Conflict, Transparency, and Close Reading

17 March, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

Recently, a friend wrote and suggested I apply more “nuance” to my broadsides, herein aimed at stirring up the citizenry and giving voice to the voiceless. My “developer” friends also accuse me of standing in the way of progress. Both criticisms are taken in good faith. But none of my critics apparently read my remarks closely. For months, if not years, I have voiced support of the Farmer’s Market but criticized the management by the town for not also observing the rights of Plaza Merchants. Both parties could be accommodated with minor tweaks in terms of location, maintaining traffic lanes, etc. I have been on the Plaza watching the Town ineptly manage events and shut down the Plaza unnecessarily. The town bullies merchants by using their own top-down “police powers” to undermine the rights of the brick and mortar tenants. The reduction ...

Redevelopment Divisive: Mayor, Manager, and “You People”

13 March, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

(Editor's Note: this piece is long but broken up by subheads. Read it and weep.) On Thursday, March 17, Mayor Barrone and Manager Bellis will conduct a public hearing for the Town Council and interested citizens on a rezoning proposal for the redevelopment of the area south of the Plaza on the west side of the highway from McDonalds to Los Pandos Road, including a substantial portion of the Couse Pasture. The Council is expected to rule yea or nay or could continue the hearing and decision. Background Historically, Irving “Kibbey” Couse, son of E.I. Couse of the Taos Society of Artists, sought to expand on and cement his father’s legacy, working with his sisters Ginny and Elizabeth at the studio and home on Kit Carson Road. Though two of the siblings (Kibbey and Elizabeth and in-law, Ernie Levitt) have died Ginny carries ...

Taos: Town Stonewalls Community

10 March, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose! (The More things change, the more they remain the same.) The Town of Taos administration is stonewalling neighborhood activists on Montoya, Burch, and Los Pandos streets, the area immediately adjacent to the proposed Smith’s Big Box development. Now, a new swath of residents knows what the Chicano Chamber of Commerce and the Plaza Merchants have been protesting against. Bellis, Barrone, Hahn, and Lopez portray a policy that can be characterized as “my way or the highway.”   The current town council rubber stamped the mayor’s nominees, manager, attorney, department of finance director, etc. despite a desultory record of allegedly deceptive practices and/or manipulating the “procurement code” to serve special interests. Now the Council seems poised to quail under pressure and approve rezoning for an outside developer. Historically during times fraught with “zoning” and “development” issues, the council frequently ...

The Absurd becomes a “reality”

3 March, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

When the elected representatives of the public ignore the rule of law or the customs and traditions of socio-political organization of long-standing, chaos and uncertainty prevail. Pronouncements that make no sense can be categorized as “absurd.” Certainly the rise of economic inequality, compounded by social inequality, in a formerly democratic capitalist state, like America, indicates that the experiment in democracy is teetering on the brink of extinction. America is already an oligarchy tending toward totalitarianism. Whether Clinton is elected to represent the softer side of the status quo or Trump the harder edge, the future looks a bit dim and more like "soft fascism" each day. Think Flint and Black Lives Matter. In New Mexico both the Supreme Court and Public Regulation Commission have blinded themselves to their duties and twisted round their thinking in the desire to please themselves and the ...

The Politics of Hate and Democratic First Responders

1 March, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

Today, Super Tuesday, will feature a referendum on “the politics of hate (racism),” or the “southern strategy” implemented by Richard Nixon years ago as a staple of presidential politics. Ironically, the democratic candidates, particularly Hilary Clinton, will benefit also from the legacy of slavery, one of America’s two original sins: the genocide of Native Americans was the second. Black voters see Hilary as a fellow traveler of Obama. Meanwhile the Republican Party has transformed the party of Lincoln into a subversive attempt to transform constitutional democracy into the plaything of billionaires and demagogues. Democrats have followed in their wake and moved to the right. Republicans ignore traditional notions such as bi-partisan foreign policy, equality under the law, and have re-interpretated the first amendment in favor of corporations and the second amendment in favor of serial killers. In their racist zeal Republicans invite ...

Town of Taos Election Issues

26 February, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

Apparently Town of Taos Manager Rick Bellis has taken a page out of KCEC CEO wunderkind Luis Reyes’ notebook. (The current town council even has its own version of KCEC Trustee Peter Adang.) From the point of view of Town residents, Bellis is either a villain or a hero, a liar or a pragmatic manager. The current Town election, scheduled for March 1 will settle little in terms of simmering controversies except for more of the same. None of the candidates appear to be familiar with the deeper cultural issues that have surfaced in the last year. This writer supported the winners in the last municipal election, as he once did Peter Adang’s election to the board at the Coop. So much for democracy, local politics, and the rise of demagoguery: we have our own Trumpism. Still I shall discuss briefly ...

Report from Cornel West

22 February, 2016
By: Contributor

(Editors Note: Thanks to the Boston Globe, Taos Friction reproduces the post below. We urge  democrats to support Sanders, regardless of fear and loathing for Trump. By supporting Sanders, the movement pushes the Clinton opportunists  back to the center left. We made the mistake with Obama of not holding him accountable.   On a personal note, during graduate school, two other graduate students and I sat in the middle of the Quad on the grass at university and discussed the state of the world with Cornel West. His charismatic presence and his speech combine the passion of the philosopher and theologian with the soul of a born rapper.   This might be the only election in our lifetime wherein we can make a statement by voting to uphold the original American ideas and values written down in the Declaration of Independence.) Clinton vs. Sanders, ...

Realpolitick: The Rise of Spectacle and Fascism

16 February, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

“Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves.” Walter Benjamin— (The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction).   The rise of Trumpism, based on the skillfully applied lessons learned from showbiz by a master manipulator has injected the Republican party with a way for supporters to identify Trump as their proxy for anger. In the process Trump has destroyed a sacred cow, speak no ill of another republican. He ridicules George W. Bush for starting the Iraq War and not keeping American safe, lambasts fellow candidates, who are bought and paid for by big money, and promises to “make American Great Again” while he builds a wall and deports 11 million brown people. Donald thinks big. Socialist Demo Bernie Sanders offers American idealism to millennials and long-frustrated leftists, children ...

Kit Carson v. PRC and members: HCH and ToT v. Taxpayers

12 February, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

Unfit to Print On 11 February 2016, the Kit Carson Electrical Cooperative (Coop), through its attorneys, Cuddy and McCarthy, filed a motion for a rehearing at the Public Regulation Commission (PRC). As Taos Friction has noted, Coop Trustee and blogger Peter Adang revealed that the Coop had experienced a $1.4 million dollar swing toward the negative side of the ledger in 2015: the coop earned a $600,000 profit in 2014 but lost $800,000 in 2015. Now the Coop screams for "due process" and wants to "cover up" its peccadilloes.   The Coop presented the PRC with a desperate request for a rate increase in January but the request was suspended, since more than the 25 affected members, per the regs, protested. In addition to the rate request for an increase of 19%, a charge aimed at the bottom tier of users, both conservationists ...

Pick pockets, cronyism, do-gooders, and the political class

9 February, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

“The perception that government in New Mexico has a high level of cronyism is one factor dampening private investment in the state, according to a report released Thursday. “From day one, what business leaders tell us is that corruption and cronyism matter, and they have consequences to economic growth,” said Michael S. Rocca, an associate professor of political science at The University of New Mexico who led a team of researchers and graduate students to author the report “Crony Capitalism, Corruption and the Economy in the State of New Mexico.” Posted: Wednesday, January 27, 2016 10:45 pm | Updated: 6:39 pm, Fri Jan 29, 2016. By Bruce Krasnow, The New Mexican Currently the Mayor of Taos is trying to fix the leaking coffers by promoting a big box adjacent to the historic district and Couse Pasture. The “fix” is in, according to ...

Flint: The Failure of Democracy

5 February, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. “ --Declaration of Independence (A long forgotten document?) Surely in today’s America, a belief in civilized values should enable citizens, families and children to survive and have access to moral law, despite racism, poverty, and economic inequality. The Statue of Liberty is inscribed with the words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” The notion of being able to “breathe free” originally welcomed immigrants to America who fled repressive regimes. Today, Americans flee Flint to come to Washington D.C. and plead for clean water, modern sanitation, and the right to breathe free whatever clean air remains. At the House of Representative ...

Bernie Beats the Drum for Justice

3 February, 2016
By: Contributor

(Editor's Note: I grabbed the comments below from Michael Moore's Facebook page and dedicate the endorsement to my Democratic friends who are voting for a "sheep in wolf's clothing" this primary season. Politically speaking Bernie Sanders' opponent, Hilary Clinton, is a moderate Republican, unusual today in an atmosphere of political extremes, even if she calls herself a democrat.)   Bernie's campaign on the issues of fairness and justice addresses the foundation of American political reality and practice: economic determinism and inequality. If we had "economic justice," we could transcend differences and begin correcting social ills as so many of our European neighbors have done.  But  the Corporatists and Billionaires have privatized  government by politically dividing the working and middles classes and diverting the voters in both parties by pointing at social and civil ills, including issues of sexism, GLBT rights, right to choose, ...

2016 Earth Science Achievement Award Celebrates Dr. Fred Phillips and Trudy Healy

1 February, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

At the Roundhouse Rotunda in Santa Fe on Thursday, Jan. 28, I wandered into an unusual but very New Mexico scene: familiar folks in the public and political sector celebrating contributions to science. The highly respected New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources presented the 2016 New Mexico Earth Science Achievement Awards to Dr. Fred M. Phillips for “outstanding contributions advancing the role of earth science in areas of applied science and education” and, Taos’s own mayordomo daughter, Trudy Healy for “outstanding contributions advancing the role of earth science in areas of public service and public policy.” Dr. Phillips, just published a book, co-authored with Emlen Hall (the latter an old friend of John Nichols) Reining in the Rio Grande (UNM Press 2015). Described as a study that examines human interactions with the Rio Grande from prehistoric time to the ...

Courts, Cops, Prosecutors, Coop

29 January, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

“In his affidavit in support of his search warrant application, Defendant Wentz [a town cop] falsely swore to a judge of the Eighth Judicial District Court that the data he received from the cellular telephone providers were “lawfully obtained” (See Lawsuit below.) Naturally, you dear readers, are getting sick of stories about unethical conduct in our bucolic community, which sounds more like a corrupt burg out of a Raymond Chandler novel than the pastoral Chamisaville (Mayberry?) mentioned by John Nichols in his Milagro Trilogy. Here in real live Taos this post includes more about incompetence at the Coop, cops who take shortcuts at the Town of Taos, and the 8th Judicial District Court and DA’s office, where violating the rights of “victims” and “suspects” is historically routine. To be fair, the Administrative Officer of the Courts, apparently says that former DDA Emilio ...

KCEC Trustees Display Contempt for Empty Treasury

27 January, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

"The unaudited loss for [the Coop]  2015 is roughly $800,000 versus a $600,000 net margin in 2014." Peter Adang, KCEC Trustee Culture at Risk “Sin Verguenza” Last week the KCEC Trustees, their private contractors, and employees filled the chambers at the NM Public Regulation Commission to plead for a rate increase because the Coop has fallen below minimum revenue benchmarks required by their lenders. Though the Coop dismissed all but 8 protesters, the PRC found 63 legitimate protests out of little more than a hundred filed. The PRC ordered up a hearing to investigate the rate request. Now, despite pleading penury, the Trustees are spending an estimated $20,000 for travel expenses in order to attend the Region 10 Coop Convention in New Orleans the first week in February. According to Flavio, an insider who picks up discarded memos and financial work sheets from waste-paper ...

NMPRC Order Filed and Open for Discussion

22 January, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

In an effort to encourage transparency, Taos Friction posts the latest order from the NMPRC regarding the KCEC rate case.  Too often business is done by Kit Carson Electric Cooperative behind closed doors. But thanks to activists, member-protesters, perhaps the community will get a look during the hearing at what KCEC is doing with the millions of dollars it has borrowed. In particular Taos Friction dedicates today’s post to Jerome Lucero, a one-man phone bank and activist who works tirelessly to shed light on the technical intricacies of electrical engineering and has revealed much about Coop charades in Mora-San Miguel and Taos. In fact, Jerome "spoke truth to power" at a famous PRC meeting in 2006 regarding Tri-State G&T piracy in New Mexico and was fired for blowing the whistle on the giant unregulated monopoly. Unfortunately, KCEC CEO Luis Reyes learned ...

NM Public Regulation Commission Sets Hearing for KCEC

21 January, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

In a win for members who are protesting the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative rate increase, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission on Wed. Jan. 20, 2016, voted to send the request for a rate increase forward for a full-blown hearing. KCEC will now complete a filing for the request and member protesters will prepare for a testy discussion of the issues in a public setting. According to Chief Counsel Richard Blumenthal “33” protests, eight more than were necessary, met “substantial compliance” and were considered legitimate. KCEC argued earlier in written form that only 8 met the threshold. Of about 112 protests filed, the PRC staff said 63 met the threshold but Blumenthal only approved 33. The minimum necessary to force a hearing is 25. Prior to the Jan. 20 hearing, KCEC CEO Luis Reyes had reportedly assured the Board of Trustees ...

In Memory of MLK: A Call for Freedom and Recognition at home

18 January, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

In Isaiah Berlin “Four Essays on Liberty,” (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969), the philosopher and historian of ideas, writes about “negative freedom,” “positive freedom,” and a third order of freedom or “lack of freedom” which amounts to “the lack of proper recognition.” Berlin’s notion of “hankering after status and recognition” addresses much that seems culturally relevant or did about local politics. Regardless of the “negatives” in a politico’s record, native citizens and residents tend to vote for the “one from here.” In the past if you were not from here, it was a death knell for elective office. Folks always voted for someone they knew. But today locals have lost interest in self-government. They seem discouraged as much by local vendido politicos as by the “rigged system“ like the one at the Coop, wherein nothing changes. The improved economic status of many ...

Social Justice: Taxpayers and Employees Pay for Corruption

13 January, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

The Arbitrary and Capricious Politics of Retaliation Cover Ups Uncovered Facts begin to Emerge Taos County This morning’s news concerning Taos County’s firing of its detention center director speaks volumes. The jail administrator, Johna Gonzales, was the last weak link in County Government, due to the arbitrary and capricious nature of her administration, alleged romances, and mercurial approach to management. The new County Executive, Manager Leandro Cordova, former finance department chief, is known for running a tight ship. By his side, Attorney Bob Malone, is a stickler for the “rule of law.” Former Detention Center Jail Administrator William Cordova, who helped smooth the transition from the old jail to the new facility, is the only administrator at the detention center to evade scandal: not a single lawsuit was filed during his administration for suicide, escapes, abuse, etc. But he and his assistant Mary Mylet were ...

Community Issues: On Social Justice

6 January, 2016
By: Bill Whaley

Introduction (Part I) “Injustice is a kind of blasphemy. Nature designed rational beings for each other’s sake: to help—not harm—one another, as they deserve. To transgress its will, then is to blaspheme against the oldest of the gods. “And to lie is to blaspheme against it too…To lie deliberately is to blaspheme—the liar commits deceit, and thus injustice. And likewise to lie without realizing it...Nature gave (him) the resources to distinguish between true and false. And he neglected them, and now can’t tell the difference.” (Book 9.1, Marcus Aurelius's Meditations) The other night, after reading one of Kit Carson Cooperative Electric, Inc.’s “false claims” written by CEO Luis Reyes, one in letter form the other a spread sheet posted in The Taos News, I was reading the above passage, an excerpt from the Meditations, written by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180) in the fine ...

The Coop and the Cult of Magical Thinking

30 December, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

Luis, Luisa y Los Hitos As many of my readers know, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) has scheduled a meeting on Jan. 6th to hear whether or not the PRC should hold official hearings on the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, Inc.’s (Coop) request for a rate increase. At least 82 members protested the rate increase. According to The Taos News, CEO Luis Reyes disputed and otherwise threw out 90% of the protest for ambiguous reasons. Back in 2010 El Reyes threw out 99.98% of the protests but the PRC held a hearing anyway. Luis likes to make things up. The 2010 hearing ended abruptly but was never completed. Apparently, the PRC bowed to the wishes of the USDA/RUS who insisted on encumbering the Coop’s assets due to the federal grant and loan of 60 million dollars, so the PRC bowed to ...

Christmas Politics: PRC, KCEC, Town of Taos

24 December, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

During the next few days Santa will be keeping an eye on the great Walmart experiment: lighting on the Historic Plaza in downtown Taos. Goodbye Traditional northern New Mexico and Hasta la Vista poquito Farolitos y Luminarias. Hello Saint of Le Plastique and plastic Disney figures. Here comes Santa with a big fat roast pig on New Year’s Eve. Taos celebrates the expanding carbon footprint in this the Century of Climate Change. Hey, KCEC’s CEO Luis Reyes touched the pulse of the PRC yesterday but they rebuffed his sleight-of-hand attempt to squeeze in a rate increase before the end of the year. Now the CEO claims more than 70 protests of 88 filed don’t fit the “form.” But the PRC waived him off until probably Jan. 6 when the Commissioners will make a decision about Scrooge and the 10 Dark Angels ...

Caveat Emptor: Questions for the Coop

17 December, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

Beware the CEO’s BS at the Coop: the man is losing touch with reality. Unlike the Traveling Trustees at Kit Carson Cooperative Electric, Inc. who gather round their CEO like true believers, I am no businessman. No doubt, the Trustees can tell you why they have borrowed $100 million, while encumbering the assets of the $134 million Coop. The only truly honest Trustee, Virgil Martinez, has said, “We should all be in jail. I’ll go if they’ll go.” Despite the high gloss on technology at the Coop, I’ve never had an “email” message or “smartphone” note from a Trustee. Yet they do know how to use the telephone. Though they are in the Internet/Broadband business, the business of “adding” and “subtracting” seems like Calculus to the Trustees but without a guide like the teacher, Jaime Escalante, played by Jaime Olmos, in “Stand ...

Taos News Announces Lumps of Coal for Incompetents

11 December, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

KCEC’s Consultant critical of Coop RUS’s Bruner Breaking KCEC TCC Bailout for HCH PD Chauvinism Taos Kitsch I love it when the mainstream press confirms prior stories posted by Taos Friction. Call me Scrooge. Coop Consultant  For instance, in the Dec. 10, 2015 edition of The Taos News, a story by the intrepid J.R. Logan, who actually reads documents, published remarks by KCEC’s rate consultant Steven Seelye. The Coop’s own consultant used language like “ `financial distress,’ and `underlying financial underperformance.’" (Why can’t he say, “mismanagement?) Logan summarized, saying “it (the Coop) is struggling to meet several accounting benchmarks used by lenders to judge the financial stability of their borrowers…operating well below nationwide industry standards.” According to Logan’s own study, “Kit Carson is among the poorest-performing co-ops in the state.” Instead of paying cash, the Coop borrows and spends. The County and EPWSD: tax and spend. In a second article ...

Kit Carson Electric Coop Members Alert!

6 December, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

From the Taos News Online news site: "Where are my capital credits?" Below is an excerpt from The Taos News “Kit Carson rate hike sees early protests (17),” Cody Hooks Updated Dec 5, 2015 (Taos News Online) Warning from the PRC: “Protests submitted via email and signed letters are questionable as to their validity in the matter. This would be determined by the commission and Kit Carson,” Padilla said (PRC spokesperson) “By law, the PRC needs 25 valid protests to go forward with a rate-hike investigation. The last time Kit Carson went out for a rate increase in 2010, the co-op argued that all but a handful of more than 300 protests were invalid, though the PRC eventually went through with an investigation.” Dear KCEC Members: KCEC CEO Luis Reyes has already told the “Traveling Trustees” that the PRC will not hold a hearing because the minimum (25) ...

The Struggle for a Community’s Soul

3 December, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

Prologue “If we do nothing, we sort of sleepwalk into a total surveillance state where we have both a super-state that has unlimited capacity to apply force with an unlimited ability to know (about the people it is targeting) – and that’s a very dangerous combination. That’s the dark future. “The fact that they know everything about us and we know nothing about them – because they are secret, they are privileged, and they are a separate class… the elite class, the political class, the resource class – we don’t know where they live, we don’t know what they do, we don’t know who their friends are. They have the ability to know all that about us. “This is the direction of the future, but I think there are changing possibilities in this.” Edward Snowden, The Guardian. The quote above from Edward Snowden suggests ...

KCEC Trustees Celebrate “Rate Increase”

24 November, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

Travelers Happy! At their dress rehearsal Monday meeting (Nov. 23) for the last regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, November 24, 2015, the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative Trustees discussed plans for their annual visit to New Orleans the week before Mardi Gras in February 2016. Having taken the courageous step to vote for a rate increase, trustees were assured by their CEO, Luis Reyes, that a protest was unlikely to gain the support necessary to force a public hearing at the Public Regulatory Commission in early 2016. CEO Reyes has announced rate increases of 41% for monthly meter charges and a second 20% charge for residents who use 250 to 500 kilowatts of electricity a month. Critics say the rate increase is aimed at seniors and low-income users as well as conservationists. Of 11 trustees only Virgil Martinez voted against the rate increase. Still “the ...

Coop and Town: The Scandal that Keeps on Giving

13 November, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

Kit Carson Electric Coop Trustees and their Energized CEO all ordered “colostomy” bags yesterday after getting disemboweled by J.R. Logan’s Taos News story, “Debt a factor in Kit Carson electric rate hike." Coop critics and cockroaches, protesters and concerned members cheered the mild-mannered reporter for shedding light on the “debt” at the Coop. According to Logan’s story the Coop owes a collective $84 million but everyone believes, there’s more, much more where that came from, including the “$37” million being charged by TRI-State G&T for an “exit” fee. Among other misguided stabs into the competitive markets, free markets where they can’t compete without the benefit of a monopoly, the Trustees voted to venture into a Call Center, Propane, Internet, Broadband, and Command Center businesses. Thanks to five years of advocacy back at the turn of the Century, CEO Reyes managed to lobby ...

Clarifications and Continuations about KCEC v. E911

11 November, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

An expert writes to us from the massive County Complex with special knowledge about the $1.6 million upgrade and reminds Friction readers of the following (herein paraphrased) concerning the current E911 facility. True, the town could have made the old building on Civic Plaza Drive ADA compliant for only a few hundred thousand dollars. But the equipment and software had several issues: repeater problems in the outlying areas, including Amalia, Questa and southern Taos County. Every report recommended new radios, repeater upgrades and software upgrades. (Editor’s note: under town management the E911 system suffered from neglect.) The bulk of the $1.6 million was used to address these issues so that members of the JPA, Taos Ski Valley, Town of Taos PD, Taos County Sheriff and Questa PD could all share any data, with the new Computer Assisted Dispatch (CAD) system, including the Detentions Center, ...

Taos and The Coop Culture

6 November, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

La Cucaracha and Thelma's Girls? Deep Background Some of you remember when Saki rented the back room of Hotel La Fonda to Thelma and her lap dancers and the joint was called “La Cucaracha.” Peter Adang, the KCEC Trustee and blogger is singing tunes today for the new joint at the Boardroom on Cruz Alta St. Here’s an excerpt from his latest blog. Peter's Insight “ Singer Taylor Swift has a song “Shake It Off” with a line apropos of Kit Carson’s critics. “[T]he haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate….” I can name a number of these “haters” who revel in any problems faced by the Cooperative. The Germans have a word for it—schadenfreude.” It means enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others, or satisfaction felt at someone else’s misfortune.”—Peter J. Adang, KCEC Trustee Blogger (Nov. 2015)   In May of 2011, Judge Peggy Nelson ...

The Cockroach of the Kit Carson Coop!

4 November, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

(Part I) Oh dear, our leader, Pobrecito Pedro, “the Cockroach of the Kit Carson Coop,” Peter Adang, attorney retired, the KCEC Trustee and current blogger, has chastised us, his former cockroach colleagues, who stood with him when he protested the rate increase at the PRC hearings a few years ago and chastised the “nasty nine” (Trustees) for various excesses and even led the charge and sought in District Court the “recall” of nine trustees before he got elected by activist “cockroaches” in 2012 to the Board of Trustees at KCEC. Then he had his “come to Luis” moment. Apparently, the Coop voted in a special open meeting on Oct. 26, according to the Chief Cockroach to raise rates. He says he published the info on his blog; a blog I’d never known existed. The Coop is asking for rate increases, including increasing the ...

Local Politics Emulates National Policies

3 November, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

(Ed. Note. We have two events coming up. Friday at 5pm we will gather at a yet to be determined location for the Rachel Maddow forum. Then November 14th at Taos Mesa Brewery for the CBS Twitter debate. Mark your calendars! Follow us on Facebook via the links below. Visit the Bernie Sanders page and dial in your zip code to RSVP to the upcoming events! Thanks to Kate, Abe, Margarita, and Renee for starting their own exciting Sandernistas group in Taos! Please forward this to your interested friends. David Cortez) “The Sound of Music.” Rated R Fewer Americans each year have the ear or eye to detect reality, due to the “virtual” American culture, now being transformed by the debates described by the masters of “double speak” as “political” and “presidential.” Just because you don’t see “it” on the Cable or Broadcast ...

Kit Carson Rate Increases…going up and up.

27 October, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

The Bandido Culture Since the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC) has failed to meet TIER, “the median times interest earned ratio, which measures the ability to generate earnings adequate to meet interest payments on long-term debt,” the Trustees have either voted in one of their “secret” meetings yesterday or will vote during their regular meeting today to ask the PRC (Public Regulation Commission) for a rate increase. Trustees have been saying for months that the Coop is failing to meet its minimal return of something like a 1.25 % on investment. While the Trustees are more interested in travel than operations, still we members of the Coop believe they should pay more attention to business and attend fewer hospitality suites in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Denver, Washington D.C. Disneyland and Las Vegas. The Coop has lost, according to hearsay, because they won’t publish or ...

Demos Debate: Hillary Grins and Bernie Dances

16 October, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

"The Intercept report revealed, among other new disclosures, that at one point in 2012 Obama had approved 20 people for assassination in Yemen and Somalia. More than 200 were killed by drones in those countries that year, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism." (theguardian, 10.16.15) In general terms, the production on Tuesday night of the Democratic Party debates in Las Vegas, the model city for Wall Street, home to casino-capitalism couldn’t have been more different than the recent republican carnival-like sideshows. Democrats discussed issues like adults; republicans name call and appeal to bigotry like kids on a playground in middle school. Even the debate’s also-rans, James Webb, an old-fashioned republican in democrats' clothing, Martin O’Malley, former Baltimore Mayor (?) and Maryland governor, and Lincoln Chaffee, a candidate who got left behind by the republican party, seemed more attractive and in ...

Political Rock Star Sings for you tonight at KTAO

13 October, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

The Plutocrats are Coming Join the Democratic Socialists and supporters of “Equality” at 6:30 this evening at the KTAO Concert Club: Bernie Sanders, America’s Last Best Hope, Debates the Wall Street Clinton Gang tonight on Television. On Oct. 10, The New York Times, in an article by Nicholas Confessore, Sarah Cohen and Karen Yourish,  outed the “overwhelmingly white, rich, older” males, who are members of “Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control [who] contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found.” Bernie Sanders is an avowed grass-roots democratic socialist (like George Orwell). The Times continues: “ Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago.” And this ...

Town’s Secret Building Inspections for Primos and Cuates

7 October, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

(Breaking News) The County has encouraged staff to issue an RFP for a Farmer’s Market on the Complex parking lot for next summer. I’m betting about half the growers and vendors will join the exodus from the over-crowded Plaza to take advantage of local traffic on Paseo del Sur and a chance to "expand."   Everybody in Town is pretty happy with Cutler Paving on the Plaza. Congrats to the mayor and council. The Kansas Company is working quickly to resurface the historic district. With good weather and well wishing, the Mayor will be able to congratulate himself and his so-called manager. According to insiders at the Town, the Department of Public Works, where the little Cowboy ropes in contracts for friends, the Council and Mayor could have used “Cutler” for years and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars while restoring the ...

Taos: A Sound and Light Show

2 October, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

When the established press, a mainstream newspaper like The Taos News, a community organ more interested in boosting ads and sales than publishing reports of chicanery, criticizes the town administration for not providing “basic services,” i.e. “a chief building official” one can only wonder whether Mayor Dan Barrone, a lumberjack at heart, has lost his work gloves. The Mayor brags that GRT are up and takes credit for an upsurge in the mainstream economy due to local events like the “Paseo” and “Fall Arts” or the “Mother’s Day Concert,” all of which were organized by volunteers and do-gooders, historically and currently.   Meanwhile The Taos News wonders whether “the town administration’s attention has been focused on marketing, putting on events in the hopes of drawing more visitors and, hopefully, more residents. But that doesn’t do anyone much good if the town isn’t able ...

Exploiting Taosenos: SignBusters and Honoring Those We Serve

22 September, 2015
By: Contributor

            Lawlessness in Community During the last mayoral election, Chicano Chamber VP Gene Sanchez, who supported his handpicked candidate, Fritz Hahn, for Town Council, advised the eventual winner that the Town should do a “forensic audit”. Sanchez claimed the reserves had disappeared from the town’s treasury and wanted to know who was responsible and why violations of the procurement code seemed so egregious. Once Hahn and Barrone, the Mayoral candidate, Sanchez also supported, got in to office, the Two Gringos hired a third as Manager, Rick Bellis. Sanchez said he was particularly concerned by the scandal involving Kit Carson Electric Cooperative and the Town of Taos regarding the violations of the anti-donation clause, during the design and construction of the ill-fated Kit Carson Command Center. At the Sanchez office, file folders, including taped recordings of interviews with architects, back up claims that outline ...

History and Controversy: “they report, you decide.”

14 September, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

In so far as the word "knowledge" has any meaning, the world is knowable; but it is interpretable otherwise, it has no meaning behind it, but countless meanings [i.e.] "Perspectivism." It is our needs that interpret the world; our drives and their For and Against. Every drive is a kind of lust to rule; each one has its perspective that it would like to compel all the other drives to accept as a norm.—Friedrich Nietzsche; trans. Walter Kaufmann, The Will to Power, §481 (1883–1888)'[5] Last Thursday night, Sept. 10th, a crowd filled the Harwood auditorium for the first history lecture of the fall UNM/SMU series. Organized by Taos’s own UNM anthropologist (emerita) Dr. Sylvia Rodriguez, author of “Acequia: Water Sharing, Sanctity, and Place,” and other scholarly work based on the Taos area, the title of the evening’s lecture was, “Who Writes ...

Taos County: A Steady Hand on the Tiller

9 September, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

A Dirty Little Secret: Practical Politics Here’s a dirty little secret about Taos County I just learned: the County has 5/12ths of its total budget sequestered in the reserves: two million more than it needs, I’m told. Huh? Huh? I remember when the reserves fifteen years ago were more like zero and it took several years to find a "trial balance." In those days DFA (Department of Finance, Local Government Division) used to check daily and appear regularly to lecture the Commissioners about a return to fiscal sanity. The initial calls to DFA were made by the feisty Director of the County’s Finance Department, “Lovely” Lorraine Coca-Ruiz. Then everyone had a nickname, including the legendary Becky “Lifetime” Parraz. Though Becky was passed over for County Manager, she would have served the media better as a “quotable” official. But the County’s choice of ...

Labor Day Democrats Prepare for “Bernie Man” Birthday

6 September, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

Local progressives and independents are preparing to celebrate “Bernie Man’s” Birthday at the Taos Mesa Brewery, 6 pm, Tuesday, Sept. 8th. Earlier on that same day, Taos County Commissioners will select a new county manager from applicants, Leandro Cordova, Finance Department; Brent Jaramillo, Deputy County Manager; and Rebecca Mondragon, Planning Department, who made history as the County's first elected female commissioner. Commissioners will also consider the ramifications of remodeling the Historic County Courthouse and renting spaces at market rates, commensurate with payments for the loan meant to finance the remodel of the historic building. Commissioners have yet to announce and decide the “purpose of the building,” which will dictate the location of ADA bathrooms, and elevator, and other infrastructure items. We don't know yet if Commissioners plan to include a Beer Parlor and Pizza Shop or Trinkets for Tourists, an Art ...

Town: “It’s Not Our Fault”

4 September, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

(Editor's Note: I herewith apologize for the long winded narrative below and my unceasing addiction to local politics.  But when the town screws over my merchant friends, I feel compelled to sing of the "unjust" and "incompetent" ways at Town hall. Yes, I know there's nothing new under the sun.)  "I got your message re: building inspector; am appreciative, Louis & Rick are 'on it' and I'll be following up as well." Fritz Hahn The following exchange and analysis refers to the inability of the Town’s Planning Department to check plans and inspect building projects, which negatively affect economic development. I know of two projects that have been delayed by the Town Plannng Department because the Town refuses to hire a qualified building inspector. Now the Town is advising developers to go to Santa Fe and/or Albuquerque and visit with the state’s ...