St. Nick Visits With Vendors
A Christmas Story
No, it ain’t over until Gov. Martinez sings, Gov. Cordova vacates the Taos Pueblo throne, and a district court or federal judge rules. But yesterday, Dec. 10, a man among men in this godforsaken lawless community stood up to the official lawbreakers and alleged regulators and said:
“Leave them alone. They have a right to be there.”
Of course I am talking about the vendors and the Taos County Sheriff’s Office misplaced attempt to dislocate the remaining rag-taggers from their tiny bit of ground, east and south of Taos Pueblo’s “Wall of Shame,” aka NMDOT barriers. Yes, there they were, a few vehicles, a couple of portable tables, a few items for sale under a sunny sky on a cold Dec. day, the vendors stuck on the muddy shoulder of U.S. Highway 64 near the famed bridge.
The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, a popular tourist attraction, used to have parking for visitors. No more. One of the wonders of Taos and New Mexico is shut down to all but the Bighorn Sheep and a few nimble-footed vendors. Today, even the state memorials and historic markers are blocked from public access by Taos Pueblo’s Wall of Shame.
Here they came, once again, the representatives of the law, the Taos County Sheriff’s Office, ready to raise their batons and whip up on the free-market miscreants. The choppers were in the sky overhead, too. I saw the sneaking around in the clear blue yonder. Anyway, quick as a wink, a vendor grabbed her cell phone and called her County Commissioner, one Nick Jaramillo, call him St.Nick. Apparently, Commissioner Jaramillo called the Sheriff and said, “No, they (the vendors) have the right to be there.”
So Scrooge backed off. Ever so meekly, and like lambs, the deputies turned away and drove back to the old armory at the blinking light next to the Morrison Memorial Tower—you know the intersection where so many vendors sell stuff on the state highway right away.
(Just as Taos Pueblo stopped the 150 foot Morrison Memorial cell phone tower from being activated, and the cross-wind runway at the airport from being built, so they have tried to stop the vendors from selling curios on the property the tribal council sold to the state ‘lo back in 1963. Can you say, “Broken Treaty?”)
We want to know why Sheriff Miguel Romero and his sidekick Under-sheriff Ed Romero sent the county coppers out there in the first place. The hostility aimed at vendors by Taos Pueblo, New Mexico Department of Transportation, Pueblo, County and State cops is truly amazing—out of all proportion to charges of what? No charges have even been filed, no vendors noticed because the law is on their side–if not the cops. The judge said so.
Thousands of dollars in public funds have been spent on cement barriers to prevent vendors from selling their goods and tourists from visiting the bridge—especially those who are limited to wheel chairs or crutches.
A single WarChief and his band of renegades from Taos Pueblo have coerced the state and the cops into playing the heavy. (This group is also responsible for shooting, allegedly, “Erminio’s Cow.”)
The current contractor works on one lane at a time but the state has closed access on both sides of the east side highway approach. Now we have a dangerous traffic situation: No shoulders, no pull offs, just barriers reminiscent of the Berlin Wall.
And the cops carry out illegal orders from the seekers of vengeance against vendors (like Mayor Codova’s jackboots who mugged sign man, Jeff Northrup). Gov. Martinez is in charge of NMDOT—or was. Gov. Nelson Cordova is in charge of Taos Pueblo Cops—or was. But in Taos County, County Commissioners reign supreme and we are grateful for it.
Scrooge backed off thanks to St. Nick.
Nick has defended the rights of vendors in the past–the right to sell and survive by their wits. He’s the first public official to stand and deliver on behalf of the people this Christmas. Nick stands tall.
“On Dancer, On Prancer, Vixen Away.” Viva St. Nick. Viva, viva. And Bravo, too.
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