Community Watch List

By: Bill Whaley
8 August, 2016

The Movida Makers

Let us all congratulate the Town of Taos on the presentation of “Alabama Shakes” in concert. Apparently eight or nine thousand concertgoers from out of town filled the Kit Carson Park and, according to the cheers, attendees were much pleased. The well-organized sound and staging, parking lots and venue deserve mention. From the patio of my casita I thoroughly enjoyed the residual sound effects as I did seeing out-of-towners crowd the sidewalks and streets. Congratulations are in order to Mitch Miller and his in-house roadies, the town personnel, who organized the event and kept watch.

The Town tourism sector this year indicates an increase in travellers who are spending time and money while staying home in America and coming to Taos. The pleasure of the music serves as a welcome antidote to the discouraging chaos of presidential politics. The return of Cutler Paving for an encore sounds like a good thing to those tired of bumping into potholes.

Still one must keep an eye on community leaders or “movida makers,” who would divert your eyes and pick your pocket or despoil history and ram something up your neighborhood. Below I point out the suspect “movidas” of Kit Carson Coop, the Town of Taos, and Taos County’s passivity despite an obvious crisis.

KCEC

Today, August 8,  the Coop’s attorneys, under the supervision of CEO Reyes, are required to submit briefs to the PRC Hearing Examiner (HE). The HE has required KCEC and PRC staff to convince her why she should weigh in on a “stipulated agreement” that violates a March 16, 2016 procedural order, an order originally sought by KCEC to “narrow the scope” of the hearing. The six factors are posed as a series of questions:

1) What is the cost recovery for the residential class, the fixed costs and volume costs?

2) Why does KCEC want to eliminate of the progressive residential rate structure?

3) Do new rates punish conservationists and “low users”?

4) Do new rates discourage energy conservation and/or institute renewable technologies?

5) Is the increase in fixed charges ($14 to $20 plus) just and reasonable?

6) Is the cost allocated to the residential class just and reasonable?

In the recently filed “stipulated agreement,” KCEC and PRC staff, to all intents and purposes, have agreed to an adjustment in rates that affects security lights, and commercial users, etc. So the Coop and PRC staff are asking the Hearing Examiner to broaden or otherwise “violate” KCEC’s own order, approved by the PRC,  to consider only the residential class. So the current “agreement” appears to violate the rights of members and the intent of the PRC, while shunning the participation of the Interveners.

Now we all wait for the Hearing Examiner to make a decision while KCEC spends hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to file this brief, that motion, this interrogatory. The hearing process is as mind-boggling as the Trustees’ decision to travel in the midst of crying “poverty” while seeking a rate increase from the PRC in January.

Town and County

Today, Monday, Aug.8, the Town and County meet in joint session to consider 1) a regional animal shelter; 2) possible CDBG or Legislative Funding for Camino del Medio; 3) NMDOT Improvements for Paseo del Pueblo Sur (US/State Road 64/68, and 4) a Detox Center. It all sounds good but what will be done?

Editor’s Note: Given the Community’s historic challenge in meeting community alcohol and drug abuse, not to mention attendant burglary, homicides, and suicides, a modern “detox center” or “residential treatment center” would seem in order.

 Drug-related deaths in house suggest the County is not coping with a recurring problem of the drug trade and death by jail.  In the last 15 years, the County has employed only one jail director and an assistant who managed the facility without incurring a single death. They were summarily fired for their efforts.

Writing off jail deaths and smuggling as incidental to jail ops strikes me as “bad faith.”

Watch list for Neighbors and Cultural Preservationists

The Town’s proposed Plaza make-over lists the “Bataan Memorial” and “Padre Martinez” bronze sculpture as potential targets for “re-location off the Plaza.” Between the veterans and the Hispanic community, the political ramifications for the Mayor’s re-election could vanish if he allows “Bataan” and “Padre Martinez” to vanish. Rather he should oversee re-designing the Plaza with a suitable site for both inside the park. Or maybe Taos needs a new Mayor?

Planning takes front row seat in the Tuesday meeting, Aug. 9 at 3 pm. The Council will consider under Public Hearings a “master plan” and “Capital improvements plan;” and the “ possible approval of Ordinance 16-10(A), amending Ordinance 16-10, which amended sections of the existing Land Use Development Code.”

Staff is presenting the following: 1) approval of proposed calendar for adoption of the Revision 2020; 2) proposed Land Use Code amendment; 3) Design standards for Paseo del Pueblo Sur.

Due to the Manager, Mayor, and Council’s initial back-door deal with Smith’s, a movida upended by the election of two new councilors, citizens need to remain wary. Given the Bellis appointment to the Historic Preservation Commission of his alleged “lady friend” and the surreptitious doings of the “Design and Review Committee,” not to mention the public demeanor of the Planning Dealer, the deck appears to be stacked. If you don’t show up or watch, don’t complain.

Conclusion

Barrone, Hahn, and now Evans appear, per Bellis, to ignore the public and conduct government in a less than transparent or ethical manner. Where are the press releases about the planning issues mentioned above? The Town tells us plenty about closing the landfill on a windy day or the arrival of “Alabama Shakes,” but nothing about nuts and bolt issues which affect us in the community for years.

Apparently the Town’s mayor and manager have learned much from KCEC’s CEO Reyes, who is setting a new standard for community leaders by engaging in a number of perilous paradoxes. For instance when is the “$37 million” ransom paid to Tri-State on behalf of KCEC by Guzman not a debt? Though it’s not a debt it’s still a “collective obligation” that is financed by members of the Coop, who buy electricity via KCEC from Guzman via Tri-State G&T. The liberation from Tri-State appears to do little more than satisfy the Energizer Bunny’s ego.

What exactly did we get for $37” million in addition to maintenance costs and responsibilities for transmission lines and substations? If you see a Coop Trustee ask her or him when a “debt not a debt?” Contrary to popular wisdom, the sun is free to all and has never been governed or regulated by Tri-State or the PRC. Buy some solar panels and enjoy. Go outside. It’s  amazing.

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