May: “Save Your Coop Month”

By: Bill Whaley
30 April, 2011

In an attempt to stop the local rural electrical coop from a ruinous duplication of services in Propane, Broadband/Internet, Command Center/Emergency Operations, and Travel Opportunities Writ Large–so-called “Diversification”– grass-roots activists have declared May “Save Your Coop Month.” The “Members Protest Movement” (MPM) is pitted against Los Gatos Grande of the Coop aka “The Nine.” MPM claim Los Gatos are spending wildly so they can travel and go to meetings.

On April 29, representatives of MPM deposed Kit Carson Electric Cooperative CEO Luis “Rabbit” Reyes. Like his namesake Peter (above), the Rabbit reportedly slipped away from questions and slid into hidey-holes of sophistry, according to Flavio. But “Macgregor was right there,” said the former lineman. “The Rabbit was a carrot patch of contradictions.” Depositions were held at Coop HQ in anticipation of the May 24 Public Regulation Commission Hearings for the controversial KCEC rate increase.

(Members experienced a 60% increase in costs for electricty during the last ten years, according to the Coop.)

MPM Leaders also submitted over 800 names on a petition asking for the recall of “The Nine” Trustees, due to charges of general mismanagement on Friday, April 29. (Two Trustees voted against the increase and are exempt from the recall.) On June 18 at the annual membership meeting, Trustees will face their accusers in what promises to be a hot time at the Taos High School gym. Members have voted to install term limits in the past but failed in a vote to reduce the number of trustees from the current number of 11 to 5 as was done at the Mora-San Miguel Coop. Reducing the number of trustees saves money and increases efficiency, according to spokespersons for the MPM.

In a forecast of things to come, last week the Mora –San Miguel Coop got the jump on Taos. During a raucous monthly meeting, the state highway patrol was called in to restore order. Here in Taos County, according to Flavio, some owner-members who signed petitions in Penasco and Questa won’t see their names presented to the board because individuals circulating petitions were threatened with “Parking Lot” politics. The intimidated ones say they will remain in hiding until MPM guarantees their safety.

A KCEC employee, who was promised anonymity, said, “We [employees] are buying fire crackers and saving up for the big party to celebrate the send-off of Ghaddafi Reyes, when he resigns.” In all probability, Luis will kick out all but 8 or 10 of the 800 or so signatures on the petitions due to spelling errors, etc., the way he did the protests against rate increases. Regardless, the MPM has already won the public relations war and jump-started the campaign for the 2012 board of trustee elections. (Goodbye Toby, Francis, and Manuel!)

Insiders at the Coop say the squeeze is on: no rate increase, then no more big RUS loans to keep the Coop solvent. In the past, Rabbit Reyes has (proudly) told the Friction that the Coop is “debt driven.” Meanwhile, the Command Center is empty—no gummint lessees. Despite the controversy and scrutiny, Los Gatos Grande charge members at the rate of $150 a day for showing up at solar photo ops and radio talk shows, according to news reports. The Travel Club is their home away from home.

In honor of “Save Your Coop Month,” Taos Friction will post a variety of historic news stories about the Rabbit and the Rubber Stampers during May. Some of my readers may remember the great electricity wars at Taos Pueblo in the late sixties. I don’t know how many haystacks will burn but the reputations of “holier than thou trustees” will be on fire. (BTW: Does the Coop employ residents of Taos Pueblo? Or the occasional un-related Anglo? We’re only asking.)

“Arab” Barber Busted

The last time we saw him sitting in the El Prado barber chair, Juma-Ali Khalid-Rachman Archuleta, aka “The Disappeared Barber,” was reading a book called “Every Man in this Village is a Liar.”

“No, it’s not about Taos,” he said. “It’s about Afghanistan.” Propped open on his lap was a second how-to paperback, called “Moving to Maine.”

“Are you checking out the Nor’easterners on your road trip?”

“I’m not saying,” said the Chicano Barber. “But the Southwest is wearing on me.”

The Barber had just been released from a Federal Witness Protection Program located in Taos. “Question of mistaken identity,” he said. “They still don’t know the difference between a Sunni and a Shia but they know now I’m a Chicano. I’m going to treat myself to a road trip. It’s been about 15 years.”

Few Taosenos recognize their Moorish roots. Yet “acequia” is an Arab word and local ditch customs are based on Syrian (proportional) and Yemeni (rotation) models (via Spain). We’re not sure what local politicos use as an organizing principle except for the old stand-by—local “custom” and whether or not you’re from “here.”

The Barber sped away in one of the hot sports cars, given to him by the Feds. He said he planned to reenact a scene or two from Kerouac’s “On the Road.” On Saturday he phoned home. “They profiled me, Whaley. The cops. You know. They see a Mexican in a sports car wearing shades here in Middle Amerika and they think `drug dealer.’ I’m sure of it.” After he got out, the cops asked if they could search his car. Or `we’ll bring the dogs,’ they said ominously.”

“Yeah, they found something. I told them it was medicinal. `Hell, I’m 70, I hurt all over.’ They made me throw it away. I asked if they thought the NFL season was in jeopardy. One of ‘em was a Broncos fan, so we chatted. I got a warning. But I was glad to cross the line back into Colorado. Up here I got juice. Anyway, I’ll be back, maybe not home, but back.”

(Nobody really knows where the Barber is from or what his real name is except for Homeland Security—and they, like Luis and the Board of Trustees, ain’t talking. We hear he got a passport, though, and that means “birth certificate.”)

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