Taosenos Shun Los Politicos
Dark Days in Taos
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, “eh school board member, Mr. Silva?” The school board “disappeared” the alternative school despite community opposition and the commitment of three fine teachers, all Taos natives, who tried to help Taos’s most disadvantaged kids.
The rejection of Chavez underscores the former commissioner’s failure at Taos County: the controversy surrounding La Martina’s, firing competent employees, and the participation in an unceasing series of meaningless movidas.
Taosenos don’t forget and now they are boycotting los politicos because their friends, vecinos, and relatives have betrayed them: corruption and greed run amok. We saw the boycott begin in judicial elections, as outsiders became the new judges, a new sheriff, and newly elected officials at the Town of Taos. Despite a record of unethical professional behavior, Judge Chavez in Raton, above, and DA Donald Gallegos, below, will probably get re-elected due to low voter expectations.
“What can you do?”
What with 100 more or less violations denoting professional misconduct, a policy of selective prosecution, and who knows how many un-prosecuted perps running free for more than a decade, like the NM Body Builder, who allegedly killed an alleged El Prado drug dealer’s companion, Ms. Amber Hava, Donald’s office is going strong.
This case has been bungled by the coppers, like the other murder case in the same area around the same time, when another woman, Ms. Montano, died under suspicious circumstances. The judicial system, the judiciary, and the DA have basically ignored Mr. Body Builder’s “conditions of release,” while a sleek Santa Fe defense attorney plays Taos for a sucker in the Hava case.
Nobody seems much to care about Ms. Montano. Can you blame the voters for shrugging off the historic corruption and surrendering to the gods of foul play when it comes to the DA and El Raton, the Judge?
Though Taos County appears to function as a public-spirited body, commissioners, too, can be criticized for supporting the increasingly controversial Abeyta agreement, which is producing a water market, potential pollution from deep wells, and the commodification of a way of life. Only the wealthy survive.
Commissioners also supported the status quo at HCH by ignoring a chance to try and get a new hospital operation. If you experience a medical emergency, you can spend mere minutes instead of waiting hours at HCH by driving a mere forty-five minutes down the canyon to the ER at Espanola’s Presbyterian Hospital. It’s a wonder. I guarantee it. A modern hospital!
At the Town of Taos, the attorney, manager, mayor, and council with one exception, ignored the differences between an ordinance or rule of law and a resolution or policy. Like most politicians in office, whether judge or DA, Coop or School Board, the council seems neither to understand nor care about the ethics of “right and wrong.” But “Rasputin,” Mr. Beer and Music (see the creeping belly) guides the mayor and council to its greater glory as they ignore public planning and procurement code violators.
Apparently, God has withdrawn his blessing from Taos (and America). A mere mortal and local, I, too, ignored the KCEC election as well as the HCH tax and spend proposal. The future is now. I have given in to “undefeated despair,” meaning we Taosenos and human beings must wait, gather our strength, retreat to the Garden, and prepare to fight another day when the stars are aligned.
A Den of Thieves? I’m only asking.
The Coop is engaged in a desperate game of survival and a controversial attempt to raise rates on local residents in order to continue borrowing money. Incumbent Luisa Mylet advocates a rate increase as does the newly elected Bob Bresnahan. In fact Bresnahan told me he wants to borrow another $38 million on the backs of members to buy out the Tri-State contract so Taos can benefit, ultimately, from his plans for renewable energy. Will we live that long? I go outside and worship the sun everyday.
Basically Mylet and Bresnahan are giving the outlaws on Cruz Alta Street “cover” at the Coop. Bresnahan has taken Peter Adang’s place as token on the board. Soon he’ll get the “Taos Lesson.”
Logan’s second story in this week’s Taos News says, “Coop loses $882K as energy sales sink” in 2015. Coop mismanagement has led to $100 million in current debt, the result of failed diversification and policies aimed at supporting the CEO’s follies and the lust for faraway places by the “Traveling Trustees.”
Meanwhile the Coop has spent millions of dollars in loans and grants on the Call Center, Command Center, Propane, Internet, and Broadband, including cash reserves from electricity sales. CEO Reyes has been pilfering from Paul to pay Peter, comingling line items, debts, revenue, etc. for years. Propane customers tell me of receiving checks from KCEC to cover their deposits when they exited Taos.
The Coop’s own studies, submitted to the PRC for the rate request, paint a dismal financial picture of below average performance and an increasingly desperate need for more cash. Protestors and the subsequent Interveners in the rate case forced a hearing on the rate request and the hearing is set for mid August.
In a meeting about rate request procedural issues, the Hearing Examiner warned the KCEC attorneys that she would have questions about diversification. Yet, now, the interveners, a small band of 9 pro se activists, of which I am one, are being stonewalled by the Coop, which claims “confidentiality” and “irrelevance” in response to interrogatories or requests for information. CEO Reyes is using the regulatory process to prevent the membership from looking at the books, despite case law in New Mexico, guaranteeing member access. (But New Mexico officials, including the AG and State Auditor, frequently ignore Taos “because,” as AG Patricia Madrid once said, “you people in Taos just like to fight.”)
Indeed El Reyes is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on attorney fees, using lawyers like private secretaries. He and his board could do what we do: do the work. But they are way too lazy to actually change the light bulbs themselves. So they call on Luis, and he calls up his attorneys.
On a sad note, we see that more local residents have gone “missing” and may have been subject to foul play, like Ms. Hava and Ms. Montano, mentioned above, who have also ceased to exist. The Taos News Editorial headlined this week’s lament in an editorial: “It’s almost too much to take in our tiny town.” I remember documenting between 13 to 15 homicides in 2003, four on one weekend during the Mustang Murder rout. “Don’t blame the elected officials,” said DA Donald. We might be a small community but we have big time corruption and, as the locals say, “If you want to commit murder and get away with it, live in Questa.” Or in Taos. Violence is our middle name.
After the murderous activity in 2003, the do-gooders showed up with: “Men Against Violence.” Their photo ops depicted local folks or passers-by standing up against “violence.” The P.R. campaign gave the DA cover. Now this group has emerged reborn as “Nonviolence Works” and presented the public with a photo of this man, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld, up on the wall of a local bank(s). This run of the mill second homer is responsible for notable achievements like torture at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, not to mention the Iraqi deaths of thousands or is it millions? Rumsfeld is a celebrity like Donald Trump and the Hawklike liberator of Libya, Hilary Clinton.
Today I’m going to vote for “the Bern.”