County To Consider Protests and Explain Complexities of Code

21 March, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

Unfortunately, yours truly is out of town and can't attend this very important meeting of the County Commission on March 24 at 9 am, wherein issues of procurement and protests against water transfers will be discussed. The Friction urges members of the Art and Artifacts Review Committee as well as members of the Taos Regional Water Plan Public Welfare Advisory Committee to attend. Increasingly, as Taos County adheres to current interpretations of the "code," government slows and frustrates the ability of ...

Healys Bail Out Taos County

18 March, 2015
By: Contributor

We fully recognize Staci Matlock's New Mexican story and trust in Robin's generosity re: "fair use" here to alert Taosenos to what's going on! Water deal could ease tensions between counties Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2015 7:00 pm | Updated: 12:26 am, Wed Mar 18, 2015. By Staci Matlock The New Mexican | 0 comments "Close to New Mexico’s border with Colorado, the Top of the World farm in Taos County along the Rio Grande Gorge has been a source of tension with neighbors ...

Town Discusses Crucial Issues at Tuesday AM Workshop

21 March, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

Tourism, Finance, and Road Repair Funding will be on the Town’s Tuesday morning, March 24 "workshop" agenda at 9 am. The city fathers and one mother have scheduled, after a whole year, a "whole hour of discussion" for this breakout meeting and exercise in transparency. The new director of tourism and marketing is scheduled to make a presentation. We’re not sure what is on the agenda for finance but wonder if the historic violations of the procurement code will be discussed? The community should be very interested in whether the Town plans to discuss filling the potholes or just in covering them up. Let us hope lots of people show up, including the members of the town council, who claim, like the rest of us, that they are the last to know what plans if any, Barrone, Hahn, and Bellis have for the community. It's ...

To Possess the Water and Historic Preservation?

18 March, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

Who is Manby? According to friction sources, Santa Fe County and the BIA filed applications with the State Engineer to transfer the water rights in January from Top of the World properties in northern Taos County. The water rights were sold years ago unbeknownst to Santa Fe County. El Valle's Kay Matthews, the loyal Taosena, who publishes La Jicarita was about the only protestor. Now we’re told that the Taos County Clerk has no record of the transfer application. Santa Fe County appears to be in violation of the Taos County Public Welfare Ordinance. But the majority of Taos County Commissioners seem to care more about satisfying the movida makers and water marketers who are signatories of the Abeyta/Taos Pueblo Water Settlement than they do protecting water sources and watersheds in Taos. Once again Questa, Costilla, Amalia, Cerro, Sunshine Valley appear to ...

No Locals Need Apply, Part II

13 March, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

Out of Nothing, Nothing Comes Though I am informed that only a small percentage of non-locals work at Town Hall, my source is suspect and biased by “social engineering.” Those who, as Taosenos say, “are not from here” currently fill all or most of the elite and more powerful positions at Town Hall. There appears to be little opportunity for upward mobility or experienced nortenos. Even the native Taosenos on the Town Council can’t seem to get the “information” they need, due to the manager’s and attorney’s “metaphysical claims and nonsense” about the code. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? In terms of life and death “potholes” might be considered trivial but there is a consensus among the community and even at The Taos News that the issue requires attention: what does the Town propose to do? If ...

Palemon Retires, Scandalous Photos, No Locals Need Apply

8 March, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

Retirement Party In a moment wet with historical importance, parciantes voted to replace the legendary acequia commissioner and Taos Valley Acequia Association president, Palemon Martinez as ditch commissioner on the upper Acequia Madre del Rio Lucero. Martinez garnered only 16 votes to to Leo Valencia’s 42 votes in a resounding decision by parciantes, who had prepared a plaque honoring Palemon’s fifty years of service. The decision was firm but polite and seen as necessary in order to prepare for the implementation of the Abeyta agreement on March 31, 2017. According to attendees, many of Martinez’s previous supporters and family members voted with their feet and did not attend the annual meeting. Juan Garcia is commissioner on the lower part of the ditch and Fermin Torres, who sits as commissioner for the middle ditch, remains as treasurer of the commission despite the encroaching ...

Babbitry and Boosterism

5 March, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

When small towns build airports you can bet on hearing from your local booster, aka Mr. “Babbit,” named after the bestselling novel of same, written by Sinclair Lewis (1922), which literary work helped Lewis win the Nobel Prize in literature. The novel depicts the middle class American culture of conformity. Wherever you hear community leaders discuss the “need” for a fast food franchise, a chain store, or an airport, you will hear from this fellow Mr. Babbit and his clones. He will talk always discuss the “promise” of development and how investment today will solve the community’s problems in the future. He learned his trade from the church fathers, who reassure mourners that the dead will live eternally in a “better place,” i.e. the "future." When it comes to “business” and “regional economic development,” Mr. Babbit, a member of the local ...

Don’t Ask for Whom the Bell Tolls: Fighting Words

24 February, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

“I feel sorry for Taos County.” –Virgil Martinez Commissioners at Taos County, Tom B., Jim F., and Mark G., voted to deny a protest, recommended by the county’s Public Welfare Advisory Committee against allowing the El Prado Water and Sanitation District’s (EPWSD) John Painter to transfer controversial northern Taos County water rights from the Questa area’s Gallagher Ranch to the Taos Valley. Similarly Commissioners last year ignored a recommendation by the Committee to protest the transfer of water rights from a Questa ditch to El Salto’s Rio Lucero, a project promoted by mayordomo and Abeyta guru, one Palemon Martinez. The acquisition of water rights falls under the “financial” purview of the controversial Abeyta water settlement. Under this agreement water trickles uphill toward money. Both these water rights transfers originate from watersheds that are different from the watersheds that shelter the Abeyta—Taos Pueblo Water ...

Blankenhorn’s Defense of El Prado Water and Sanitation’s Transfer

23 February, 2015
By: Contributor

From the Desk of Tom Blankenhorn Taos County Regular Commission Meeting February 17, 2015 El Prado Water and Sanitation District Proposed Water Rights Transfer In 2012, a prior Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to oppose the transfer of water rights from the Gallagher and Top of the World ranches, located north of Questa, to the El Prado Water and Sanitation District. After several hours of public testimony and nearly an hour in Executive Session, the current Commission voted 3-2 to withdraw the protest. I was one of the three Commissioners who voted to withdraw the protest, and I did so for the following reasons. The El Prado Water and Sanitation District purchased the water rights in question because the State Engineer determined that the District needs water rights from the Rio Grande basin in order to satisfy the District’s water usage. The Gallagher and ...

Commissioners Vote 3-2 to drop protest against El Prado Transfer

18 February, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

On Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015, the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future were in the Taos County Commission chambers. The elected ones voted three to two to drop the protest against El Prado Water and Sanitation District’s (EPWSD) requested transfer of 250 acre feet of water from the Gallagher Ranch in northern Taos County, up there in the area of Sunshine. Former Questa mayor Esther Garcia spoke against permitting the transfer, noting the need for water and water rights by Questenos and their vecinos up north in Cerro, Costilla, Amalia, etc. But the current mayor of Questa, also a commissioner, Mark Gallegos, voted with the Taos boys, Blankenhorn and Fambro to drop the protest against a third good old boy, the District’s John Painter. Commission chair Blankenhorn spoke persuasively as if the defendant’s attorney, offering him leading questions and soft ...

Windex and Whiteout on Saturday Night

14 February, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

(Scandals always break on Saturday night when nobody's reading or listening.) Francisco “French” Espinoza, public works director for the town of Taos, doesn’t mince words when describing some of his department’s biggest headaches: He says Gusdorf Road is “screwed up bad,” Camino del Medio is “littered with potholes,” and the condition of the Plaza in the heart of downtown is “horrible. --J.R. Logan, The Taos News Last year Taos Friction complimented the new team at Town Hall for their attention to the “clean” streets and flower boxes around the Plaza. While Mayor Barrone and Manager Bellis focused their attention on the Farmer’s Market, and listened to the happy sound of the Kongos or lit up the Plaza like a Hallmark card at Christmas, they missed the ghost haunting the roads. Despite claims about “revitalization,” as the last honest man at Town Hall, ...

It’s a Plane, It’s a Train, It’s Superman…

9 February, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

  From Kit Carson to Arthur Manby to Rick Bellis! The White Buffalo Invokes His “Linkedin” CV It is rare for a community to find a virtual saint, the proverbial man on the white horse, a man with a spit and polish bio, who, truth be known, has already saved the community (town and county) numerous times, sitting up there on the dais. Read the CV and weep, Taosenos. The “CV” below suggests its writer is a richly imaginative man. The documentation signifies a man determined, not unlike his twin, William Macy (separated at birth) the car salesman from Fargo. All this or any man needs is a bag of asphalt and concrete mix for Dan, a new sign on the park for Fritz, and a wood chipper for Judi. By golly, after saving the Town from the plague of potholes, the Biblical locusts and ...

Culture Vultures and The Ostrich Syndrome

8 February, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

PUBLIC ART AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION: In New Mexico and Taos, Yesterday and Today Culture Vultures At Saturday’s informative day-long discussion of public art and historic preservation, hosted at the Historic Taos County Courthouse by Taos County, the County’s Art and Artifacts Review Committee, and the Taos Council of the Arts, it became apparent that the community of Taos, regardless of political inertia, is poised to enter a new phase of activity in response to its own historical-cultural roots. Perhaps the most inspirational example of hard work in pursuit of the New Deal contribution came from Kathryn Flynn, Executive Director of the “National New Deal Preservation Association” of New Mexico. She reiterated the buzzwords that keep her organization’s attention riveted on its goals: “preservation, conservation, and restoration.” Flynn’s book, Public Art and Architecture in New Mexico, 1933-1943, a guide to the New Deal Legacy, is ...

Clawback Time: Crimes Against Children

6 February, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

In a story about the need for $2.5 million by J.R. Logan in The Taos News this week, the reporter mentions the amount needed for problems at the Youth and Family Center with walls, roof, failing stucco and plaster, as well as mold. But he doesn’t tell you why the ice rink (1999) and swimming pool (2004) were designed and built in such a shoddy manner. As I understand it, the architect Gorge de la Torre (RIP) designed both buildings but did not bid on the contract. Rather he was hired by avoiding the “Request for Proposal" (RFP) requirments re: the procurement code and the payments for the fee were segmented or reduced below the professional limits of $50,000, strictly a no-no, The swimming pool itself, initally a $2.5 million dollar project, more or less, ballooned to more than $3.5 million ...

Cantu Pleads for Peace, Open Policy Discussions, and a Resignation

31 January, 2015
By: Contributor

From the Desk of Councilor Judi Cantu Tuesday Town of Taos Council Meeting January 27, 2015   I find it necessary to assure it be on public record, that I object to how the Open Public Meeting of January 16th was directed. Protocol, should have been strictly adhered to, and not scripted.   The Sunshine Act is a United States law passed in 1976 that affects the operations of the federal government, and other legally constituted federal bodies.   Sunshine law is the principle to guide Open Meetings.   Sunshine law is law to help achieve a democratic ideal.   Sunshine law is based on the foundational aim to keep the public well informed.   According to the New Mexico Open Meetings Act, Chapter 10, Article 15, Section 3(B), it is the New Mexico Attorney General who is authorized to enforce its provisions. This is how fundamental this prudent law is to the integrity ...

Taos: County and Town: the Macro and Micro versions

28 January, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

Revelations Below: County Culture, Abeyta Issues, Farmer's Market  (Sorry about the length but it was a long day. Here are the highlights.) County Ramble: Historic News for HCC On Tuesday, Jan. 27, the Taos County staff hosted a work-study session for commissioners to discuss the general financial health of the County with Finance Director, Leandro Cordova, as the star witness. He and his staff, ably assisted by elected officials and their staffs, have provided Commissioners with a tight budget, conservative projections and a policy aimed at keeping the county solvent. Though I don’t have the figures in front of me, basically, expenses have declined and revenues increased. Due to tight management the county is in a sound fiscal condition. As Leandro sat there discussing the various county departments and responsibilities, including the tight management of the Senior Center, which the County rescued from chaos only a ...

Dangerous Potholes, Talk, Action, and Kid Gloves

24 January, 2015
By: Bill Whaley

While Mayor Barrone and Manager Rick Bellis in Taos have seen to sweeping up the daily deposit of snow or dirt in town, they somehow neglect the potholes, which are growing larger and expanding beyond mere bounces and jounces. Councilor Fritz Hahn, during his campaign repeatedly emphasized the dangers posed by potholes to small children on bicycles. While Councilor Hahn has made a name for himself as a hardheaded advocate of social justice issues in the Red Willow matter, his constituents are disappearing into black holes. On Thursday night, Jan. 22, your functionary here attended the town meeting where the Mayor, Manager, and Council gathered to hear the community’s concerns. The mood was civil. The mayor, manager, council, and audience all behaved. Initially, Chief Weaver, who said he could “talk paint off metal” went on to prove his point while discussing issues ...