The Taos Community: Reconciliation and Economic Challenges

11 April, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

Historic Meeting On Thursday, April 10, Taos County Commission Chair Gabe Romero called to order a “historic joint meeting.” Chairman Gabe sat between Commissioner Blankenhorn and Commissioner Barrone, the latter, the newly elected Mayor of the Town of Taos. On the Mayor’s left sat Councilors Fred Peralta, Andrew Gonzales, Fritz Hahn, and Judi Cantu. The meeting lasted from 9 until 5, with brief discussions of and agreements to proceed on issues of inmate and water rights charges between the County and ...

The Frame, the Fix, and a Fair Trial?

9 April, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

(This piece was originally posted on June 14,  2013 but makes a good companion for the story on the right about a Cop and DA, who ignored law, statutes, customs, and procedures, while indicting the alleged KCEC bandidos for a robbery that occurred almost one year ago to the day. The local cops and DA, apparently with the approval of their bosses, play fast and loose with the civil rights of the accused. Although sloppy local officers are not as ...

Blankenhorn Report & More Local Politics

16 April, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

Local Politics: Taos Friction has been checking in with El Mitote. Could it be the year of the woman? Judge Betty is running hard against the homeboys and  we hear Candyce O'Donnell's campaign is building momentum. According to term-limited Commissioner Joe Mike Duran, Candyce made a good impression in a Penasco meeting. She could garner big numbers in the Weimer area and benefit from a vote split. Flavio tells us Judi Cantu's campaign canvasser, operative David Cortez is now helping Candyce. She still needs to raise money but with Tafoya's campaign slowing, Silva suffering from years of association with corrupt town politicos, and voter fatigue affecting Manny Pacheco, Candyce could be narrowing the gap. She has been to more county commission meetings in the last 27 years than anybody else except Flavio himself, the local custodian. Hey we just had the first "blood ...

Taos County Campaign Politics: Read Between the Lines

14 April, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

As a pundit, it’s fun to make predictions and share one’s thoughts re: the upcoming primary in Taos County. During the recent Town of Taos election the issues were critical and the records of the incumbent were available. Due to a lack of news coverage and the nature of neighborhood politics, the County elections are more subject to personal relations. Unlike the municipal elections, none of the candidates appear to have well-organized and multi-faceted campaigns compared to the Barrone, Cantu, and Hahn juggernauts. Historically, the natives tend to vote for family members and members of their villages. The newcomers often vote on the “issues.” Ethnic background plays an obvious role as does party affiliation. At the same time, los vecinos sometimes avoid voting for a neighbor or family member they know too well. Nothing is carved in stone. Low turnout or ...

El Mitote de El Norte

12 April, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

APD Dukes it Out with DOJ “Section 14141 makes it unlawful for government entities, such as the City of Albuquerque and APD, to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that deprives individuals of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” —DOJ According to news reports across the nation and the world, the APD’s re-introduction of the death penalty into New Mexico under a “shoot to kill policy” is unconstitutional. Apparently, the Government has rules when it comes to shooting the homeless and mentally challenged. Grapplers: Not Killers Up in Taos, the Police are less bloodthirsty than the APD. According to a report in The Taos News by ace reporter Andrew Oxford (Aug. 3, 2014), a cop reported, after a high-speed chase through the Horse Shoe, down into Pilar, and up and over ...

Taos: Judge Busts Misguided Cop & DA for “Bad Faith” in KCEC Bandido Case

8 April, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

Editor's Note: Below are excerpts at the top  plus the complete opinion of Judge John Paternoster below re: a defense motion to quash grand jury indictments against alleged bandidos in the Kit Carson Coop Robbery Case. According to the decision and order, evidence obtained by Detective John Wentz and presented to the Grand Jury by Deputy District Attorney Emilio Chavez was illegally obtained. So the indictment has been quashed.   Below the excerpts, Taos Friction posts the complete opinion. "Typos," including missing paragraph numbers,  occasionally interfere with clarity, due to email transmission and conversion from PDF to a style sheet for the post. But due to the importance of the decision, Friction posts the complete document.  "THE MOTIONS TO QUASH ARE WELL-TAKEN, AND SHOULD BE GRANTED. IT IS SO ORDERED" "The Taos District Attorney's office has issued 49 of these same "John Doe"subpoenas duces ...

County Checks and Balances: The Town’s Cash Crunch

6 April, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

Fortunately, the ballot is still a secret. Unlike the recent Town elections, where the issues were critical, I don’t see a trend or a threat to local county government in the upcoming elections. Some candidates have a record of public service and superior qualifications while others possess a record of poor public service and seem under-qualified. Some are newcomers. I have confidence in the voters. Due to long time loyalties and past support, I cannot be objective in making public declarations when it comes to County candidates, though personally I am eligible and will vote for Virgil, Judge Betty, Bobbi DeHerrera, and Judge Ernie— those who have demonstrable records in support of the community. If you have questions, buttonhole the candidates. At the Town we were desperate for change and we were lucky enough to elect three solid candidates. In the County ...

Caveat: Cruelty Replaces Compassion

26 March, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

In the greater context of cultural forces, today, under the aegis of class warfare, we see the corporatists extracting wealth from the working class, as our governors have substituted a “culture of cruelty” for a “culture of compassion.” In Christian terms, it is Yahweh or the Old Testament God the Father, who demands Obedience, lest he smite you v. Jesus, the God of Love, Mercy, and Compassion, who said, “Let ye who is free from sin thrown the first rock” or “love your enemy.” But the cops serve the masters and must keep order among the hoi polloi. We know what happened to protesters like Jesus and Socrates before Him. Now it's time for the homeless to die. The failure of leadership at the Albuquerque Police Department (APD), which resulted in the death of a homeless man, according to a viral ...

Taos Water News: Healy Honored and County Amends Regional Water Board, ISC…And Flavio’s Findings

21 March, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

Taos County. Taos County honored Water Trust Board veteran Trudy Healy at Tuesday’s March 18 meeting with a plaque and home-cooked banquet, the latter prepared by Department Heads and helpers at two banquet tables in the foyer of the Complex. Gubernatorial candidate Sen. Linda Lopez attended. Healy commented on recent honors received at the Roundhouse for her ten-year service to the state but said there’s nothing like being acknowledged by your hometown. She only wept a little bit and warned Taosenos to stay alert when it comes to water issues. The Commissioners also amended the ordinance governing the Water Board Advisory Committee so that each commissioner could appoint one (1) representative, reducing the number of members from nine to five and the quorum to three. The ISC has called for a Taos Regional Water Regional planning meeting on Monday, March 31, 2014 ...

Taos Bits and Pieces: “The Soul of the Southwest”

18 March, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

Marketing: Somebody reminded me yesterday about prior slogans associated with the Taos marketing campaign. I’ve always found the notion of “slogans” and “branding” rather ambiguous,  like the term “networking.” What’s wrong with making “friends?” Though I'm told by my business betters slogans and “branding” are necessary. Still “The Soul of the Southwest” meets the peculiar triumph of kitschy karma that describes Taos. I first heard the term from N. Scott Momaday in a piece he wrote for the New York Times Magazine back in 1983 or 1984 and I’m sticking with it. Under this rubric you can include all your promotional elements, be it getting higher, skiing, the Monument, or the Arts. You can say it sincerely or with utter sarcasm. Taos appears to be a bit tattered around the edges but I think we can all agree that that the ...

Griffin’s Taos: Impossible to Remember!

16 March, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

"There’s a word for it: Taos. Hard to describe. Impossible to forget.”__Joanie Griffin "There's a word for it: Trapped! Hard to succeed, impossible to escape."--Taos Local “We Can Do Better!”—Greg Pease In the recent Town of Taos election, voters and citizens, residents and activists in the greater Taos Community recognized the hijackers at town hall and threw them out. The mainstream weekly in Taos missed the story and endorsed the status quo, which suggests the editor and publisher are out of touch with the community. Further, recent stories in the weekly focused on the divisive issue Taosenos were trying to overcome. Apparently the reporters have mistaken "collaboration" between county and town for “conflict of interest.”  Voters, however, in the election of Commissioner Barrone as Mayor, along with Councilors Judi Cantu and Fritz Hahn signaled their commitment not just to the town or county but ...

Tone Changes at County: Candidates Rush to Join “Well-oiled Machine”

12 March, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

At Tuesday’s March 11 Taos County Commission workshop meeting with Taos Pueblo Gov. Clyde Romero and Tribal Secretary Ian J. Chisholm, Commissioner Joe Mike Duran beamed like the kid who got a new bicycle for Christmas. County Manager Steve Archuleta introduced himself to me as the “new county manager,” saying, “the county is moving forward now.” Did I mention that Mayor Barrone of the Town of Taos sat with his fellow commissioners? Yes, they jolly-well congratulated the lumberman in his casual shirt and jeans. The good will spilled over from the Town of Taos to Taos County to Taos Pueblo to Santa Fe County and Santa Fe and Vertical Real Estate, which company owns the “Morrison Memorial Tower,” a longtime inadvertent intervenor in the sacred viewshed, according to Gov. Romero and his estimable assistant, Tribal Secretary Ian Chisholm. It turns out that ...

Judge Paternoster, Oriana Farrell, a Smoking Gun? and a Gap in the Tape

9 March, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

In a district court hearing on Thursday, March 6, 2014, Judge John Paternoster decided, for all practical purposes, in favor of several points, re: Attorney Alan Maestas’s motion to compel discovery, in his defense of Oriana Farrell. Farrell is the black woman from Tennessee, whose minivan, full of kids, was stopped by a white state police officer, Tony DeTavis, near Talpa, a neighborhood in the vicinity of Taos last October for speeding. As Internet buffs and news-watchers know, the cobbled together video of the incident went viral, became a cause celebre at criminal justice classes nationwide, and, subsequently, the focus of local attention, due to the actions taken by state police Officer Elias Montoya, who shot at the tires of the van in an effort to disable the fleeing vehicle. If you watch the Nov. 23 release of the 18-minute video of ...

New Team in Taos: Dan, Judi, and Fritz Win Big! And so does Judge Dickie!

5 March, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

Collaboration Wins It! So the new Mayor, Dan Barrone (1104) smashed the incumbent Darren Cordova (453) and former mayor Fred Peralta (210). New Town Councilors Fritz Hahn (893) and Judi Cantu (714) beat the pants off Rudi (583), Pavel (381), Amy (288), Cindy (159), and Darien Fernandez, write-in (62). Adios Los Vendidos: Darren, Rudy, Fred. You won’t be poaching gross receipts tax and property from the County anytime soon. BTW Dickie at (1155) out-maneuvered Cyndee Perez (492). Cordova can get all the celebrity endorsements he wants down south, from Governors to Mayors, but Fritz turned north and got his benediction from one Virgil Martinez of Cerro and Mr. Suitors Martinez of Valdez, among others, including the Chicano Chamber of Commerce in El Prado. The barbershop quartet still sings, “Down by the old Acequia, running clear and deep, down by the old acequia, ...

Taos: Water, Land, and the Culture of Self-Determination

28 February, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

On Thursday, Feb. 27, campaign ads in The Taos News as well as campaign ads on radio really spelled out the issues in the Town of Taos mayoral and council race. Nothing less than a shift in local culture is at risk. The customs of El Norte are being challenged and demeaned. Let’s look at yesterday’s ads in The Taos News. Mayor Cordova’s team paid for ads that show Governor Susanna Martinez and Mayor Berry of Albuquerque, two Republicans, endorsing the incumbent mayor. Further, Mayor Coss, the alleged “progressive” mayor of Santa Fe, has endorsed Mayor Cordova—despite the latter’s record of opaque government and public misdeeds re: contracts for cuates i.e. privatizing the public purse. Gov. Martinez herself lost Taos big time in her gubernatorial election. Her “oil and gas” and “Tejano” values are at odds with about 85% of Taosenos. Recently, ...


24 February, 2014
By: Contributor

FEMA indicated that Taos County was nominated for the honor by other agencies who were asked for recommendations, including federal partners that work with the County, such as the US Forest Service (USFS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the FEMA Region 6 Office overseeing New Mexico, the NM Department of Homeland Security and other disaster relief, mitigation, natural resource management and first responder agencies. FEBRUARY 24, 2014 TAOS COUNTY, NM - Taos County was contacted today by representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and informed that the County has been selected as one of a handful of federal, state, county and municipal governments nationwide to be recognized for its work over the past decade in hazard planning, mitigation and the subsequent proactive implementation of measures to protect public health, safety ...

Taos County Recovers 700gs, Meets with Colo. Will Pass LUR

23 February, 2014
By: Contributor

Headlines: Despite the TCHA scandal, the County has recovered over $700,000 from HUD for Section 8 applicants. See Press below. Southern Colorado Counties and Taos County Meet to Consider areas of mutual interest. Water, Monument, and Tourism on the agenda. New Land Use Regulations Could be Passed. Will County Preserve or Deny the Right to raise Chickens? Let the Developers Loose with new height limits? Or save the view from smokestacks? Eh? Will they Preserve or Sell the Water Rights? We’re only asking. Visit on Tuesday Night at 6 PM on Feb. 25. It’s a secret meeting but you’re invited and its your last chance to upset everybody. COUNTY RECOVERS OVER $700,000 FOR LOCAL HOUSING FEBRUARY 20, 2014 TAOS COUNTY, NM - Taos County was contacted today by the Office of the Inspector General for Housing and Urban Development and it was confirmed that over $782,086.14 ...

The Taos Community: Reconciliation and Economic Challenges

11 April, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

Historic Meeting On Thursday, April 10, Taos County Commission Chair Gabe Romero called to order a “historic joint meeting.” Chairman Gabe sat between Commissioner Blankenhorn and Commissioner Barrone, the latter, the newly elected Mayor of the Town of Taos. On the Mayor’s left sat Councilors Fred Peralta, Andrew Gonzales, Fritz Hahn, and Judi Cantu. The meeting lasted from 9 until 5, with brief discussions of and agreements to proceed on issues of inmate and water rights charges between the County and the Town. More importantly, the Town and County agreed to proceed on a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) or principles for the E911 Operation and Dispatch Center to be located at the County Complex in the near future. The Department of Finance Authority’s representative from the Local Government Division, Wayne Sowell, was present and blessed the proceedings. According to the proceedings, the ...

The Taos News: Tortured Logic and Suspect Motives

21 February, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

Analysis Our local weekly, The Taos News, engages in the mysterious practice of unsigned editorials and endorsements, the tried and true if hoary practice of virtual neutrality, which masks the motives of corporate journalism. Let us see if we can understand, not the clarity, but the ambiguities of the corporate mind. Below the Friction italicizes excerpts and follows with a critique. (1) The March 4 town of Taos election has races for mayor, council and municipal judge. Many are seasoned politicians. In the future we would like to see more new faces. Darien Fernandez and Fritz Hahn are new to politics and campaigning for office. For Taos mayor, we have three candidates: the incumbent Darren Córdova, town councilor and former mayor Fred Peralta and county commissioner Dan Barrone. Of the three, we endorse Darren Córdova, but with suggestions for his next term if he wins. This ...

Taos Issues: Meters, Command Center, Annexation, Arts, Acequias

20 February, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

For months Taos Friction has been saying the issues in this year’s Town of Taos election are crucial. The current mayor and council have taken extreme positions, ignoring the law, violating common ethical standards, while retaliating against their critics. The town government displays a lack of “respeto” for their own taxpayers and exhibits outright contempt for the safety, health, and welfare of citizens of Taos County. Meter Minders In what might seem like a silly feud, compared to the life-threatening decisions surrounding the Command Center, town government has set meter minders against local merchants. Each day Robert and Eric stand on the Plaza waiting for meters to expire. Then there’s a footrace between merchants with their quarters and the cops with their twenty-dollar tickets. Do you interrupt a potential sale to feed the meter? Meanwhile, dozens of parking places are vacant, especially ...

Taos Candidates Forum: Consensus and El Mitote

18 February, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

Issues Despite the repetitive nature of the Monday night, Feb. 17, forum for town council candidates, there were moments of levity and what appeared to be a consensus on the troubling Command Center issue and some light shed on the airport controversy. Four candidates, Judi Cantu, Fritz Hahn, Pavel Lukes, and Amy Quintana all agreed that one Command Center at the County made sense. Rudy Abeyta and Darien Fernandez said the town and county should enter “binding arbitration.” Pavel himself, who said he considers Rudy or Darien, the candidates he’d like to work with most, said he considered the intervening private organization (KCEC) a “weak link” in the current structure but repeatedly referred to his “lack of facts.” Rudy said eleven years ago all the local entities supported the Command Center concept from KCEC. When the KCEC CEO presented the idea of a ...

Keynoter Strikes Chord with Demos

16 February, 2014
By: Contributor

Tonight, Monday, Feb. 17, a forum, sponsored by KTAO and TEN (Taos Entrepreneurial Network), at 5:30 pm will introduce seven candidates for town council at the old County Courtroom as the historic frescoes watch! The event will differ from a previous event in terms of style and substance. The public is hoping for a debate on the issues. Will questions from voters be allowed? Or must we keep la gente in check? We're only asking. The Town of Taos incumbents have made a number of false claims about the operations and security of the E911-Dispatch Command Center or why they choose to annex the airport. As well, the actual costs of parking meter administration and its effect on local merchants has become increasingly controversial. Many folks question the marketing program that seems to offer little in the way of  help to retail ...

Healy Honored, Court Rejects Town’s Appeal

12 February, 2014
By: Bill Whaley

Early Voting begins at Town of Taos town hall on Camino de la Placita. On Thursday, February 13, 2013, the New Mexico Senate and House will memorialize and honor Taos Water Activist, Trudy Healy, for ten years of service to the state on the Water Trust Board. Trudy served as treasurer and on the review committee, vetting applicants and working with NMFA to make sure communities, municipalities, counties, water and sanitation districts, the tribes, irrigation districts, acequia parciantes, and watersheds got a fair shot at phased in water projects. She formed relationships on both sides of the aisle and gained respect from farmers and ranchers in the north and the south due to her even-handed treatment and advocacy for all New Mexicans. The Martinez administration summarily dismissed her and replaced her with Greg Alpers of Roswell, a representative of DowAgro Sciences, which ...

Blankenhorn’s Report

10 February, 2014
By: Contributor

Regular Meeting Summary February 4, 2014 Hospital Committee Report In November, 2013 The Town and County passed resolutions to form a committee of representatives from Town and County governments, the Holy Cross Hospital Board, the hospital workers union and informed citizens to examine the finances and management of Holy Cross Hospital. The formation of the committee was the result of public concern about recent hospital reductions in staff and services due to large financial losses from hospital operations. The committee has met twice per month since its formation in November. Taos County Financial Director, Leandro Cordova and I are the County’s representatives, and we presented the Board with the following information. Holy Cross Hospital and numerous other small rural hospitals throughout New Mexico suffered large reductions in annual payments for indigent care beginning in 2011. As a direct result of these reduced payments, ...

KCEC Torres Right on Command Center

By: Bill Whaley

In a crisis, government needs to be able to manage the flow of information, coordinate the efforts of numerous responding agencies, and allocate scarce and competing resources appropriately — “triage the response” is the term professionals use. From experience, I can tell you that successful societies, organizations and communities always have single centralized control and one response manager. Not two, not three, but one place through which everything flows to manage the crisis: one command center. —David Torres (from The Taos News) I couldn’t agree more with KCEC Trustee Torres remarks on advocating for a single emergency center. Taos needs a single E911—Dispatch and Command Center. The current County Complex is designed for E911-Dispatch. Broad public parking lots and a variety of meeting rooms, large and small complement the facility. The emergency medical facility and kitchen set up for the adult ...