Batra Saves Town From Political Ignominy

By: Bill Whaley
28 June, 2017

(Editor’s Note: In the interests of compromise, developer Batra withdrew his controversial four-story proposed Holiday Inn Express at the June 27, Town of Taos Council Meeting. Indeed Jay Batra saved town government, specifically Mayor Barrone, Manager Bellis, and Councilor Hahn from their own lack of leadership. At one point, young Councilor Evans had to assist the Mayor in managing the meeting, young Councilor Fernandez played advocate for the community and cross-examined both Bellis and Batra. Councilor Cantu kept the real “heart” of Taos alive. And the citizens prevailed not over the hotel but over removing one story from the dirty tales of manipulation promoted by the “good old boys.” Et tu Pavel?)

Batra plans to discuss a “three story” Holiday Inn with the franchise owner and return in August.

By Danielle Vigil, a Taos Native

June 27, 2017

I have been to all the meetings regarding this topic. Meetings totaling over 25 hours. I watched over 50 different people speak against the height of this hotel. I along with over 3,000 other people signed a petition against this. There have been many reasons stated for why this hotel is a bad idea both subjective and objective.

These people, Mr. Hahn, Mr. Evans, and Mr. Bellis’ proxy, Dan Barrone, aren’t going to listen to us. They’re pursuing their own agenda and they’ve shown time-and-again, through their actions that they don’t have any respect for the concerns or opinions of the Taos citizens. They don’t serve the citizens of Taos, they serve corporate developers like Kroger, IHG, and Mr. Batra.

Want a more ethical government? The best way to foster transparency and accountability in government, is not through some PR stunt disguised as community outreach, it’s to vote out elected officials who have a track-record of unethical behavior, who don’t respect the will of the people, and who make no attempt to compromise. And if the official with the questionable track-record is appointed, not elected, then vote out the person who appointed them.

Furthermore, I’ve both witnessed and heard from others that the town is tired of hearing from “oppositional anglos”. Well, you know what, not only is that divisive and disrespectful, it’s discriminatory. Oppositional citizens of all races and age-groups pay taxes. Oppositional citizens of all races and age-groups vote.

So, if you’re Anglo and/or retired, remember come election time, that members of this administration have openly stated that they are not interested in your concerns or your input. Or if you’re someone that just won’t tolerate discrimination of any sort, don’t elect officials who feel they can disregard and disrespect citizens based on factors such as age and/or race.

I believe that like respect, votes are earned. Remember this moment when you’re at the ballot box in less than one year. You’ll likely have a cookie cutter eyesore—the physical manifestation of greed, and backroom deals—as a reminder.

And, lastly, as a Hispanic citizen, I’d just like to say:

How dare any of you sit up here and pretend that your self-serving agenda has anything to do with helping the Hispanic population. It’s condescending and disingenuous. If the town truly cares about the Hispanic population, they would work to bring jobs that pay a living wage, and the $500,000 CDBG would have gone toward affordable housing, instead of helping to further enrich Jay Batra.

There’s a term for when people in positions of power use others to further their own agenda—it’s called exploitation.

Give a person a pancake breakfast or a New Year’s Eve pig roast and you feed them for one meal. Bring jobs that pay a living wage and people can make their own pancakes and pork roast, long with being able to better support their families.

By Josh Concha, Native of Taos Pueblo

In Opposition to the Proposed Holiday Inn Express in Taos

By Joshua K. Concha
June 27, 2017

A. I will begin by paraphrasing, if not actually quoting, something Jay Batra said at one of these meetings in August of last year.

1. He made a statement to the effect that his hotel would not be a threat to Taos Pueblo culture which “may once have existed.”

2. He said this after I’d asked if he’d ever been to visit Taos Pueblo.

3.The fact he made such a statement shows his ignorance about the nature of this community and is an insult to not only the Taos Pueblo people, but to all who witness the 1000+ years of ceremony that still goes on throughout each year.

B. The reason I begin this speech with that anecdote is because it is an example of the way corporate gentrification erodes the nature of indigenous communities.

1. Taos Pueblo has been one of the main attractions of tourism and Mr. Batra would build a hotel that, due to its proposed size, would inherently disrespect the very attraction that would draw people to any hotel he would build and actually exploits the cultural resource that is found at Taos Pueblo.

2. The proposed Holiday Inn Express would be an affront to the Taos Pueblo being the only 4+ storied dwelling in Taos and (if this construction were to occur) would be yet another example of corporate colonialism as evidenced by the past emails between town manager, Mr. Bellis, and Mr. Batra.

C. While the need for more and better lodging in Taos can be acceded and the subsequent lodgers’ tax monies a boon to the town coffers, it should not come at the expense of the soft and restrained architectural beauty that has been a part of Taos for centuries.

1. Gentrification can have it’s benefits to a community, but this sort of unrestrained corporate gentrification is not for Taos because it has already exploited and eroded the cultural heritage of many other communities throughout the world once it gained a foothold.

D. Addressing the tactics used by the corporate minions attempting to push this hotel development forward is next.

1. The decision by elected servants of this community to limit commentary at these meetings to only 3 minutes from 5 minutes, thus silencing the voice of dissent for this project by 40%.

2. The developer, Mr. Batra telling the community that 3 storied hotels were being phased out when in fact 3 storied hotels have been built in other communities in very recent times.

E. In conclusion I will implore this council to really consider amending this proposed project to reflect a more restrained architectural vision for this community—a community that has a long and outstanding history of subdued architecture that continues to contribute greatly to the tourism based economy. My hope is that our elected servants have a vision that includes a much smaller and healthier portion of corporate gentrification that still significantly contributes to the prosperity of Taos as a whole. Town Council, you can either have a revision or, to quote Joni Mitchell, further “Pave Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot.”

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