KCEC Trustees Display Contempt for Empty Treasury
“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
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 baskets, the Traveling Trustees include Chris Duran, Manuel Medina, Luisa Mylet, Art Rodarte, Jerry Smith, David Torres, and their guide CEO Reyes along with spouses, partners, relatives, and friends.
Though KCEC is drowning in an estimated debt of $100 million, experiencing a drop in sales of electricity and has failed to complete the $60 million Broadband project, now several years over-due, the Trustees are thumbing their nose at the community and leaving behind Taosenos to suffer the January frostbite.
While the Trustees appear to be the most egregious offenders, community leaders in general apparently believe that rate and taxpayers should shoulder the burden for incompetent management. Holy Cross Hospital, which, despite a miserable record, wants a tax increase. Reduced hours on Taos Plaza, caused by misguided decisions of the Town Council and Mayor, reduces income for merchants and the Town’s own GRT income base. Historically the central park on the Plaza featured special events but the Plaza was rarely closed except for Fiesta and the fall car show.
Skullduggery, unethical conduct by board members and the quest to create a water market at El Prado Water and Sanitation District, has already resulted in higher rates and taxes for members. The County itself has endorsed directly or indirectly policies of privatizing income for the Billionaire’s resort, supporting a failing health-care institution with new taxes, as well as looking the other way while Abeyta signatories exploited poorer parciantes, who never saw the Abeyta agreement prior to the rumor of its existence. Apparently there are few if any records of minutes re: the signatures of ditch commissioners and majordomos on the $150 million document.
The Mayor’s office at the Town of Taos marginalizes and ignores the unique character of the historic local culture and longtime trade center. Rather than integrate the historic culture with the new demographic, the Town ignores the centuries old living legacy of the Hispano-Indio-Artist culture that has made Taos an enduring destination for centuries. The mayor’s manager, a creepy-looking dude right out of a Gorey cartoon, emphasizes services and appeals for the “new demographic” with special events that favor the craft beer culture of his drinking buddies.
The La Cocina culture of the past was multicultural and inclusive, not exclusive.
In Taos today, I am reminded of the movie “Koyaanisqatsi,” a kind of modern Native American fable that sings of a time and culture that is “out of balance.” Our friends, our vecinos, our primos, and our own family members grab the cash or feed their egos, while celebrating the “Death of a Pig” under their garish lights of the Plaza. Or they run off to spend the dough extorted from La Gente at Bourbon St. hot spots to satisfy their thirst.
In Pogo’s words, “we have met the enemy and he is us.” Still, a few diehards, activists, and the “loyal opposition” will be waiting for the Trustees and El Reyes, Louis I, the Sun King to return to the NMPRC in Santa Fe. Though the Mayor would “cover-up” corruption and try to kill, not the Pig, but the Plaza, history will haunt him just as 1847 haunts the Red Willow people and the Hispano Natives with visions of murderous interlopers.
But this era of the “Taos Trumps” and the “Traveling Trustees” will pass and peace will return to the valley. For Taosenos love to honor their own at the many funeral masses and burial rituals. And no man or woman gets out of here alive.