Lawlessness in Taos
Justice delayed is justice denied.
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.”‘ John Adams
Below, Taos Friction refers to stories that have been in the headlines with the exception of the current and unreported scandal at the County Complex, regarding “rumors” of embezzlement at Taos County Housing Authority. (See prior post re: Rumors). Notice how, according to “rumor,” the Feds have come in to enforce the law, regarding fiscal impropriety at the county. While the County Commission makes decisions that many disagree with, they do so within the purview of the laws and regulations, despite the occasional glitch re: “cottage industry.”
When it comes to the state, town, or Taos Pueblo, however, it is “sin verguenza” or shameless behavior that prevails–no regard for historic standards or the rule of law.
The Town has mugged Jeff Northrup by taking his signs. (See Letters, Taos Friction.) Town officials, whether due to ineptitude or passive–aggressive resistance, are unable to cite a specific regulation that Mr. Northrup is violating. Local businesses are allowed to violate the alleged regulation but Mr. Northrup, due to political speech is forbidden from protesting, a First Amendment right. The municipal court sided with Mr. Northrup but the Mayor and town officials appear to be creating “ad hoc” regulations based on “might makes right.”
What is Mr. Northrup to do? Call the cops? The cops enforce laws, generally, regarding violent crimes and traffic issues. They are unfamiliar with civil malfeasance by their boss. Mayor Darren Cordova should resign or be replaced for turning his private grievances against Mr. Northrup into public policy. Taos needs a new mayor.
Similarly, the New Mexico Department of Transportation has acted capriciously in driving off vendors and tourists from the Rio Grande Gorge picnic area and parking lots on the east side of the Rio Grande Bridge. A district court judge decided in the vendors favor in the last year, saying they had the right to sell their goods on the state highway right away. Only yesterday the state called in tribal police officers to rid the rest areas of the last of this rabble and erected more concrete barriers, barring vendors and tourists from easy access to the bridge–a tourist attraction. A “press release” sent out the day of the first calamity is neither proper notice nor justification for the transgressive NMDOT.
The egregious and lawless behavior of state and pueblo officials can’t be exaggerated. Taos Pueblo, in the person of WarChief Edwin Concha, has turned private bigotry into public policy. The state of New Mexico has become a willing player in the charade.
Both Jeff Northrup and the Vendors appear to have the U.S. and New Mexico constitutions on their side. But the right to fair treatment and due process have been violated by small-minded products of local politics in town and theocratic politics at Taos Pueblo. Jeff is an able-bodied and self-sustaining gadfly. The Vendors, in terms of the greater Taos community, tend to be “out of sight” and “out of mind.” Many of them survive only by their wits and sales at the Gorge. They are a loose community of survivors, who struggle and scramble to support themselves.
Taos Pueblo’s attack on its neighbors is surely unworthy and ignoble. There was a time in the history of the United States when American Indians in the Southwest, too, were “out of sight, out of mind.” Independent minded Taosenos, artists and enlightened outsiders, similar to the independent-minded vendors, supported Taos Pueblo in their historic struggle to regain Blue Lake. Now Taos Pueblo is losing local support and good will. Since the Tribe apparently wants to play hard ball, Taos Friction will activate the “WindTalker,” a tiny insect, who burrows into the adobe bricks at Tribal Government headquarters or occasionally listens in to the doings in the Kiva. We respect the Tribe’s religion but not the expression of the dictatorial empire building.
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