Good Samaritan Accused of Larceny
Following the thread that unravels the mystery
On February 29, 2012, the Town of Taos municipal sitting judge, Eugene “Big Geno” Sanchez, continued the larceny trial of Jeff Northrup until Monday, March 5. Apparently the number on the citation issued to Northrup failed to coordinate with the code. Getting the paper work straight at town hall is an ongoing problem.
As students of town government know, the planning department, town council, and mayor (s) have created historic snafus for themselves during the annexation process (See County lawsuits and State Boundary Commission reports); the affordable housing debacle (violations of town, state ordinances); or while building the swimming pool (violations of the procurement code). According to the provisions of the Abeyta—Taos Pueblo Water Settlement, the town is required to limit the use of private wells in town limits—a near impossible task due to political pressure by Los Cuates.
By now, everyone knows that the sign man, who pickets the Mayor and local government on U.S. Highway 68 within the town limits, has been busted, harassed, and otherwise charged with criminal activity in district court by the town and its special prosecutor. The town has charged Mr. Northrup $433.47 for the work of town employees, who have been allegedly enforcing the code against Mr. Northrup’s signs alleging corruption at town hall.
During one of the sign busts, wherein the town regulators and police department, confiscated the protester’ signs, Northrup, tried to help out code enforcers by picking up a nearby sandwich board, advertising drink and food specials at Casa Los Cordovas. He placed the offending sign in the town’s on duty pick-up truck in full view of cops and officials. Town officials under the supervision of a town cop immediately returned the sign to its place of honor in front of the hospitality establishment.
Then they charged Northrup with “larceny.” On Feb. 29, during a post-hearing confab at the court, the regulator, Mark Archuleta issued Northrup a new and corrected citation. “Larceny” is generally defined as “The unlawful taking and removing of another’s personal property with the intent of permanently depriving the owner; theft.” Officials have apparently misinterpreted a benign—if mischievous—act on the part of the Good Samaritan, who has called attention to alleged acts of public corruption and the temptations of the soul due to “spirits.”
The accused attempted to reduce visual clutter and also tried to rid the community of a dangerous message that tempts passers-by in vehicles to squint and focus on an alluring appeal to appetite and thirst-quenching beverages—a threat to work day duties or a driver’s safe operation of his or her vehicle. Community leaders send mixed messages about alcohol, confusing citizens, while filling up the courts and jails with offenders. The sign man generally pickets in front of county property where a county DWI task force sign reminds drivers not to drive and drink. Yet bistro sandwich boards advertise the benefits of same.
In Taos County, the temperance league has put God before gluttony and sloth in their reform efforts of the Ranchos de Taos neighborhood. By forbidding alcoholic beverages at a local cultural center, famous for wedding dances, hippie boogies, drunken debacles and fights during the last century, the County Commissioners have prevailed over historic customs and curtailed temptation. The town, on the other hand, tempts residents to join John Barleycorn at one of its cantinas.
While some might dismiss Northrup as a crank, he exemplifies how one man can bring pressure to bear on a mayor and town government. During the Northrup era, the Cordova administration has become increasingly subject to poor decision-making. The police chief resigned, due to a “toxic” environment and a highly praised town manager was given a golden parachute to get out of town hall. The current mayor has pushed through a deal with the much-tarnished Coop and their Command Center, which will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars during this economic downturn. Local businesses are closing doors at an astounding rate. Concerned citizens have reportedly solicited a former mayor to run for council.
Now, the tension at town hall has spilled over into the mayor’s private enterprises, where employee shake-ups are ongoing, according to insiders. To add insult to injury, the mayor’s chief competitor—Mezcal–won the big awards at this year’s Hispanic music festival in New Mexico.
Due to all this pressure, one begins to worry whether the Mayor can carry out his official duties without endangering his health. Taos Friction doesn’t believe you should blame the town crier for the message about the Mayor’s bungled administration. Look to his handlers and the puppeteers. They put too much pressure on the man. He needs a few month’s rest at Ojo Caliente.
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