Villages Politics Rule Taos but the Sign Man Stands UP!!
On Wed. May 16, the Penasco-area KCEC members returned incumbents Chris Duran and Ambrose Mascarenas to the Kit Carson Coop Board of Trustees. Reform candidate Ernesto Gonzales finished third. Currently, one trustee from the Taos area represents about 3000-metered members; one trustee from Penasco represents 800 members.
The disproportionate representation of the Taos membership means seven trustees from the villages in outlying areas, a minority, can dictate policy. Redistricting and fair representation need to be implemented in greater Taos. Currently, the village politicians rule.
Just as the outlying villages control the Coop, so Taosenos are subject to a more pernicious aspect of village politics in the 8th Judicial District. In the DA’s race, where, as Native Taosenos know, the DA, Questa’s Donald Gallegos, makes most decisions based on politics, not the principles of justice. You can take the man out of Questa but you can’t take Questa out of the man. A prosecutor, like Jeff McElroy, who runs for district judge, must answer for the ten years, more or less, he has spent as part of the DA’s staff.
Vote for Sarah Montoya for District Attorney—at least she’s “not from here.”
In Questa, where Donald Gallegos makes his home, as does magistrate judge candidate Miguel Romero, the homies escape prosecution for vehicular homicide—Red River Biker case—or where murder—the execution style murder of Floyd and Clarissa Gonzales—is covered up. (Floyd’s brother once sat and expressed his indignation about the matter to me.)
A Taoseno from Canon, who stood up to Gallegos and criticized the DA for dragging his feet when the man’s sister was killed by her common-law husband, then saw Gallegos ignore the death of his brother and partner, who were killed in a subsequent vehicular homicide. Though a town cop witnessed the killer driving sixty miles an hour through a stop sign, the out-Towner was never prosecuted, apparently due to Gallegos’ alleged dislike of the local critic, who called on Gallegos to do his “job.”
In another incident, a woman in Taos during fiesta, allegedly drunk, ran down and killed her husband but suffered nothing more than an initial arrest and two days in jail. The DA said the family didn’t want her prosecuted and stopped the procedures. The brother of the victim disagreed with Gallegos, according to a statement he made in a jury questionnaire.
Ask McElroy about the Red River rape case, wherein he got a grand jury indictment, based on the Marshall Hogrefe’s investigation but the DA immediately dismissed the charges, due to politics at the state legislature. McElroy seems like a nice guy but close to twenty employees from the DA’s office, including attorneys and a famed investigator, have been fired or resigned during the last decade—the ones who refused to follow Donald Gallegos down the path into the inchoate morass of injustice. McElroy, fellow Deputy DA Emilio Chavez, and the judges who ignore the DA’s lies–like Andria Cooper, (who also ignores higher court directives)–deserve censure, not support, for their participation in corrupt practices of the judicial system.
Taos Friction supports candidate Jeff Shannon for magistrate judge in the primary, based on his courageous and compassionate record. He worked as a Public Defender and private attorney, representing the disenfranchised. Jeff not only stands up for his clients but he has stood up to corrupt judicial practices at the Town of Taos. Shannon reminded the Judicial Commission, charged with vetting district judges, of their duty to supervise local courts. Among members of that committee that day was Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Daniels. Shannon wears the principles of professional conduct on his sleeve and acts according to the principles of justice—not politics–in his person. Thanks to Gov. Martinez’s appointment, regardless of the voters’ decision in the June primary, we’ll have Shannon in office during the rest of the year.
Currently, no example better illustrates the corrupt nature of petty political retaliation, carried out under the cover of law, than the persecution of sign man Jeff Northrup. I just watched a videotape of Northrup’s ejection from the Mothers Day music fest at the County’s Filemon Sanchez Park.
Signs say alcohol is prohibited but Mayor Cordova of DMC Broadcasting apparently gets a waiver on that one plus public money from the Town and support from the County for the public celebration.
According to Northrup and the Video, the Mayor’s brother, Daniel Cordova, huddled with the cops and then announced the public ejection of Northrup from the stage. Northrup, camera in hand, was wandering around the public park doing nothing offensive, according to the tape, not even protesting. Apparently, the Cordova gang uses the town cops as their own private police agency.
Northrup has already filed a torts claim against the town and Mayor due to the controversial sign regulations—designed specifically to target Northup’s protests. In all probability, the county will now be enjoined in a civil rights lawsuit for letting DMC Broadcasting use Filemon Sanchez Park without regard to the rights of this county citizen. Taos is not, apparently, part of the US of A constitutional system except occasionally. Perhaps the Town and courts have plans for shipping Northrup off to Gitmo.
It’s a commonplace among scholars that when private feuds and selfish gain become the motive for Village politicians, who then use public bodies to either enrich themselves or persecute their critics, and when elected or appointed judges acquiesce in the corruption, then the people lose all respect for the courts, cops, and prosecutors.
On his web site, Jeff McElroy claims, “I will end the revolving door of defendants going in and out of jail.” But he’s currently one of the hinges on the door. Retired Judge Joe Caldwell, a former DA, said at a forum for District Attorney candidates that the real power for change and administration of justice lies in the hands of the District Attorney’s office. The judges merely rule on what’s presented to them—regardless of the political motives.
(Judges “pretend” politicians and prosecutors don’t have human or political motives!)
The real criminals in the community aren’t the blue-collar perps, largely composed of those with self-inflicted drug and drink habits. Jailed inmates, in a way, are honest enough, off the record, to admit their crimes but quick to point out how the homies from Questa or how well connected relatives in the community don’t get prosecuted. The DA and the judges, who ignore greedy and crooked white-collar politicos at the Coop or the Town, take the public for a ride “under the color of law.” They should look in the mirror before casting stones or “not recusing themselves.” When courts dismiss on technicalities recall petitions or citizens’ calls for grand jury investigations, they leave the taste of ashes in the mouths of voters.
You have three Jeffs to think about today. Jeff McElroy is the DA’s man. Jeff Shannon is the courageous attorney and judge. Jeff Northrup is the protester, who embodies the ancient exemplar of nonconformity, Socrates. Socrates’ friends thought he was crazy, too, but he’s immortalized in the literature. Call this Jeff, who has the heart of a lion, The Sign Man.