Taosenos Win Battle against Kit Carson Electric for PRC Hearing: Update

By: Bill Whaley
11 January, 2011

TMS’s Gallegos Sets Agenda for Special Ed

Editor’s Special Note: According to testimony, KCEC has spent about 90 grand on a cost of service study and about 50 grand for ads, p.r. and attorneys to fight its own members and justify the rate increase. Testimony at the meeting revealed that the Coop, for years, paid all the expenses for the Propane division, then tried to collect. In other words, the funds were co-mingled as if the Coop were being managed as a proprietorship or town government. The assets of the electric side were cross-collateralized to secure loans for the Propane.

At yesterday’s hearing the Rabbit left red-faced and “Saddam’s henchmen (KCEC trustees), who were getting paid an estimated $250 to attend, looked like they were pleading for somebody to say hi,” said Flavio. PRC Jerome Block slipped out and didn’t vote. See letter below.

(Ojo Caliente) At a grueling four-hour PRC hearing to determine the validity of KCEC member protests, Mon. Jan. 10, the Commissioners in Santa Fe granted protestors the right to a formal rate hearing, according to Flavio. Early reports say Taosenos, figurative pitchforks in hands, descended in record numbers on the PERA Building, PRC HQ. (See Baron’s cartoon in last week’s Taos News.) Hallways, reception and meeting rooms, as well as the hearing chamber itself were filled with Natives, Native Newcomers, and Newcomers, who arrived by car, truck, bus, plane, horse and buggy.

See Journal North, Jan. 11, 2011

A local haberdasher from Taos said Commissioner Andrew Chavez clinched the victory with eloquent and informed yet modest testimony regarding KCEC’s finances—suggesting a two percent rise in rates was more appropriate than the five percent request on the PRC table. Apparently CEO Luis Reyes, aka the Rabbit, met up with his Mr. Macgregor, who questioned the Coop’s endless appetite for Coop carrots. (See Beatrix Potters’ “The Tale of Peter Rabbit.)

(The Pesky Insect, alas, due to lower back pain, was soaking in the Iron and Arsenic hot pools at Ojo Caliente, following doctor’s orders. Ojo Caliente itself was strangely quiet, due as much to intermittent cell service as it was the absence of local residents, who were attending the PRC hearings in Santa Fe to protest the KCEC rate request.)

Both the Journal North and The Taos News sent representatives to cover the hearings. Apparently, Los Nortenos, who are slow to rile but famously stubborn once aroused, are ready to challenge the management of the member-owned Coop. Elected trustees, with the exception of Virgil Martinez and Luisa Mylet, have been rubber-stamping Reyes’ wild debt-driven diversification schemes for a decade.

Three who gave the protestors credibility: Trustees Martinez and Mylet, Commissioner Chavez. Viva, Viva, Viva. Don’t forget the Haberdasher and the well-dressed former Mora CEO, Jerome Lucero, Linda Bence, Taos News blogger and activist, Attorney Peter Adang and Los Nortenos en todos.

Hey Luis, I hear Louis and Edwin Tafoya haven’t forgotten you either. You reap what you sow, says the Good Book. More letters below about the PRC-KCEC but first the schools.

TMS Background

The state reimburses the TMS District about $3,000 per student but two to five times that amount for kids with Special needs. Decreasing enrollment in the district for the last decade has become a critical problem. Financially, it is believed, the administrators are running the schools on the backs of special ed kids but not giving them the services they deserve and taxpayers fund.

A decade ago, about 1100 students attended Taos High. Today about 708 high school students are enrolled. By May, the numbers will probably decrease to 675. The principal of THS is paid more than $90,000 and gets a free space to park his mobile home on the Ranchos Elementary School grounds. Long term and short term administrators, despite a record of failure, have been rewarded with higher salaries.

Here are some of the issues, followed by information regarding Civil rights for Special Needs children.

1. The TMS board was forced to seek taxpayer- approved bonds to remodel decaying facilities due to poor and unsupervised maintenance.

2. While district enrollment decreased, administrator salaries, which are significantly higher than statewide averages, spiraled upwards.

3. Graduation rates and test scores for students in Taos fall below New Mexico’s famously low norms and well below neighboring school districts in Questa and Penasco.

4. Incompetence at the TMS finance department has been confirmed by three different audits in the last year. Nothing if anything substantive has been done to fix the financial muddle: no criminal charges despite disappeared assets and dough.

5. A number of unqualified teachers work in the district, according to the PED, district records, and testimony by insiders. Waivers are routine for the unqualified but favored friends and relatives.

6. According to board members and teachers, there are no documents confirming the existence of an organized instructional curriculum. Who teaches what to whom?

7. Hundreds of Special needs children have been ignored. Now, the TMS is growing more and more vulnerable to, literally, a class action lawsuit. See letter below.

8. Thanks to the last eight years of Gov. Richardson’s policies, HB 212, among others, administrators have ignored elected school boards, public education regulations, and standard operating procedures.

9. Administrators with high salaries but without the time to interact with teachers and students are frequently seen at local casinos: A red flag for forensic auditors.

Special Ed Announcement from Heather Rowley

Hi All,

Quick note: Stella Gallegos, Taos School Board VP, and I will be on KTAO 101.9 Tuesday morning 1/11 from 8:30-8:45 to encourage everyone in the community to come out and join us for these special events this week:

First, Wed 1/12 from 10am-2: 30pm, NNMSEA is sponsoring a Legal Information Day for special education issues in the community. Tara Ford with Pegasus Legal Services and Disability Rights NM (DRNM) advocates will be holding meetings and workshops at the TYFC to answer questions and help parents with paperwork and even how to access the formal complaint processes in order to secure services for their kiddos. See attached

Wednesday evening 1/12 the Taos school board will be holding a board meeting at 5:30pm at the Administration Building. Special education issues are on the agenda and Ms Gallegos is encouraging all parents to come out and support efforts to improve access and services for our special education students.

Thursday evening the Taos Community Foundation is hosting a public forum for the school board candidates from 6:30pm – 9:00pm at the Taos Center for the Arts – all members of the public can come to ask the candidates questions and hear their views on vital education issues in Taos.

Please join us!

Its important that we all make sure our voices are heard and our elected officials know how important special education services are to our children.

See you soon,
Heather Rowley
NNMSEA
575.770.1218

“The kids come first.”

I am really sorry that I will not be able to attend the school forum for the candidates, Thursday, Jan. 13, at the TCA.  My son, James is being honored for his 27 years in the United States Air Force and I will be at his retirement ceremonies in Tucson.

The next forum is Jan. 18, Tuesday, at El Monte Sagrado, and I look forward to that forum.  I’m happy to answer any questions about my positions.  Thank you for coming and thank you, also, to the other candidates for their involvement.

Gene Sanchez

My involvement with our school system goes back to the mid-2000’s when I became a member of the then Parent/Teacher/Student Association. When asked why I was a member since I didn’t have kids in the system, I said I was interested in our kids and their education because it affects everyone.

I was subsequently appointed to the Facilities Committee of the Taos Municipal Schools, a committee to determine the physical needs of the district. I was appointed to this committee because of my 33 years in architecture that focused primarily on the design of educational facilities. Upon the completion of this task, our information was turned over to the architects for their development of a master plan to promote the school bond issue.

Gene Sanchez

 

After the bond issue was approved, I was then appointed to the Citizen’s Oversight Committee that was formed to monitor how the monies were spent in the various school projects. I am an advocate for the special needs children and am a member of the Northern New Mexico Special Education Advocacy. This organization informs parents of their children’ s rights under the law in the education system.

Restoring a professionalism to the School Board (Editor’s bold) activities is important, but we can’t think that it is just civility we need. Our schools have had problems that needed to be addressed before the present school board.

We should strive for a constructive, energized debate of education and the board’s responsibilities, not the status quo of our system that has been failing our students for many years. 

I’m running to be a part of the solution and to bring the focus back to the kids. American schools are no longer leading in the world. New Mexico is near the bottom of the national education rankings.

In Taos, too many of our students cannot read or comprehend math at their grade level. Our drop out rate continues to escalate. We, as taxpayers, pay for streets and we get angry when there are bad conditions and potholes. Well, we also pay for public education, and whether you are a parent of a school child or not, citizens should be concerned with the education of our youth; taxpayers should vote for school board members and be troubled by the lack of reading comprehension and take stock in the drop out rate and what is means to our community.

I’m passionate about involvement. I voted in the last elections, and have attended school board meetings consistently over the last several years. The state of affairs in our educational system calls for everyone’s focus on improving parental involvement. This is vital. Our teachers need better support from parents as well as the community at large.

Get involved. I am. I ask for your vote on February 1. District 4 voters should go to the high school to vote. Early voting has started at the Courthouse. I’d appreciate you forwarding this information to interested parties you know.

Thank you.

Gene Sanchez

Letter Re: KCEC/PRC

Ms. Howell:

Re: the PRC/KCEC hearing on Monday, Jan. 10.

My protest was not included by the PRC yet I sent it on the day of the deadline purposely. Does your deadline for protests occur on the day of, certified by the post mark, or does it occur when the protest reaches the PRC?

I’d also like to know what rights a member has in terms of appealing the PRC procedure.

I’m very disturbed by Jerome Block’s “ex parte” communication with KCEC CEO Luis Reyes and other trustees, according to news and witness reports. He’s coming up to Taos on Saturday to meet with community members, many of whom will be KCEC employees instructed to attend an Eagles Club breakfast. The “Club” is a well-known “Coop” hang-out.

We also hear Mr. Block spends much of his time at the NMRECA HQ, aka “Statewide Party” house in Santa Fe not so far from the PRC office, where, allegedly, his mother-in-law works or did work.

I realize that Mr. Block is “ethically challenged” but ask that you advise him of potential conflicts of interest and violations of ethics that might cause Kit Carson members to engage in legal action. He should recuse himself.

Thank-you for your attention to this matter.

Bill Whaley
(575)770-4150

To KCEC

Bill Whaley
P.O. Box 1135
Taos, NM
87571

To Whom it May Concern:

Please be advised that the proceeds from my check for electric service and energy charges should be used only for current electrical operations: employee salaries and wages, maintenance and repairs, minor tweaks to the system.

Under no circumstances should this money be mingled with the Propane Division, Internet or Command Center expenses, executive salaries, or funds for the traveling trustees.

Please phone me at 770-4150 if you have any questions.

Thanks,

Bill Whaley

Category: Announcement, Education, KCEC, News, Politics, Que Pasa?, Taos Municipal Schools | RSS 2.0 Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

No Comments

Comments are closed.