Kit Carson Rate Increases…going up and up.
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 post the actual figures from audits, hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in their propane investment since it began operating more than a decade ago under these same trustees, executive staff, etc.
Then there’s the “Broadband” Fiber Optic project. While the Coop has spent a reported federal grant of $40 million and borrowed another $20 million, according to their web site, they have “750” customers hooked-up, including “DURAN’S GAS & GROCERY STORE IN COSTILLA.” There are other commercial entities and institutions outside the central Taos valley, the Coop claims they have hooked up. But their claims and $5 will get you a cup of coffee. Predictably, we also hear, the Coop will need to borrow more money to finish the “fiber optic” job. An elected official recently revealed that both the Town and County have had the service delivered to their respective headquarters but can’t hook up due to a lack of technological expertise.
According to insiders and rumors, the way the Coop communicates, the local trustees, under the CEO’s guidance, have been released by their TRI-STATE Generation and Transmission parent after paying some “$38” million for their freedom to become engaged to another G& T “provider.” In fact, we hear the Coop has paid millions of dollars in legal fees to liberate themselves from Tri-State. Maybe we’ll all go green as we go dark.
If the CEO had followed the example of John Painter at El Prado Water and Sanitation District (the “District”) he could have liberated the Trustees from debt for the small sum of whatever it costs to buy a bottle of “wite-out” at the Dollar Store: just change the paragraphs you don’t like. Unfortunately, Painter seems to follow in the footsteps of Luis, what with hiring attorneys, raising rates, causing members to pay higher rates due to incompetence in “the District.” Like the Trustees, the El Prado Water and Sanitation board “rubber stamps” the rate increases.
We members may own the Coop or EPWSD but we serve the Trustees, whose track record, like that of “the District,” is filled with incompetent decision-making and management. Given the estimated $100 million in debt, once you add up all the loans owed by KCEC, we’re talking about real money: it’s like trying to buy dog bones at CID’s.
Some of my readers may remember the lawsuit, the “reformer” Peter Adang and fellow activists brought against the Trustees. In short the activists proposed the Trustees follow their own by-laws and vote on a few issues in the annual meeting, like reducing the number of trustees. But the good judge, Peggy Nelson, played mama to her hitos and let them off the hook. Peter, who denied the Trustees three times, finally got elected and joined the vendidos as a true believer.
Meanwhile, Luis and the Trustees sold the town a bill of goods, the so-called Command Center, costing members three millions. The town and county say it cost another million to move in and back out for E911 operations. The fiasco even cost Luis’s buddy, the mayor, an election. Though the building cost millions, it is currently occupied by one or two “fiber optic” employees. The legislature back in the middle of the last decade allocated a grant of some $175,000 for architectural design for the Command Center with the Town of Taos acting, allegedly, as “fiscal agent.” But the grant turned into a “donation” to the Coop in violation of the “anti-donation” clause and they used the money for their own purposes. We have the architect on record admitting that Luis was his boss (and the paper trail). Now, according to Town Officials, despite the evidence to the contrary, the Bellis, Barrone, Hahn Team is “covering up” the alleged wrongdoing by prior administrations and the COOP itself.
How much did the Coop pay for the hole in the un-appraised flood plain before they bought it? $400,000? Course Luis’s p.r. man, Town Councilor Andrew Gonzales, need not say a word because the “Cabal” is “covering up” the violations as they have town procurement code violations, to which action they have confessed in public, violations by prior administrations among a myriad of Town Departments. The corruption is connected one side to the other.
The County generously donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in money and time to construct a “state of the art” 1.6 million dollar E911 facility at the “Complex.” And so for the sake of public safety and to reduce the debt and burden on operating expenses, the town, again, is going to the County and asking them to pass a 1/8th GRT to fund E911, you know, to reduce the burden on Town-County budgets, all because of KCEC’s wild maneuvering meant to cover-up a culprit’s drunken driving episode on Mother’s Day, so many years ago, an episode that turned into a wild fracas at the Town’s Taos Police Department.
In Taos behind every white color crime or violation of the code, there’s a blue-collar act of desire or greed or gluttony: somebody’s picking somebody’s pocket or somebody’s got his or her eye on a sweet object of desire or one more beer. I have no opinion on the private “morals” involved but I don’t see why we taxpayers should pay for public or “ethical” violations of the law and the code. But then the Governor appointed a Deputy District Attorney from Taos to be a judge in Raton: one assumes the judge is being rewarded for “managing” to cover up a daylight robbery, called an “insider job” at the Kit Carson Electric Coop despite the blame aimed at the “Ma Barker Gang.”
Everybody in Town, who knows, knows Luis always gets his way. The Taos News publishes kudos about the “Energizer Bunny” while the CEO turns Trustees and Members every which way but loose. As my favorite character in “The Wire” says, “It’s all in the game, y’all.”
As a writer, I love these characters though, as a citizen, I’m aghast. As a realist I know that the syndrome of stealing from Paul to pay Peter will not end anytime soon.