Caveat: Mid-Summer Excitement at Local Government
(Taos High dropped from a “B” to a “C” during the last school year, according to PED and Secretary Skandera’s new grading system. Meanwhile, the schools want more money–see below.)
According to fiscal watchdogs, this could be an exciting week at the Coop, the Town, and the County. We might see a coup d’etat by elected officials if they follow in the footsteps of the KCEC Trsutees and raise our taxes. Call your commissioner today.
First, the NMPRC staff will begin considering the KCEC request to encumber the Coop’s electrical assets further by allowing the USDA—RUS loan to continue collateralizing the Broadband project by using the members electric side equity. If approved, the precedent will confirm the trustee’s wanton disregard for KCEC’s historic inability to compete with private enterprise: see millions of dollars in losses due to adventurism in propane and internet. If Broadband is such a great deal, then RUS should separate its requirements for the loan from the members’ electric side assets. Meanwhile, we hear Reyes and his rubber stamp board have approved contracts in the tens of thousands of dollars with DMC Broadcasting for unnecessary promotion that is seen as a quid pro quo for the support of the Command Center. Both Reyes and Mayor Cordova should publish contracts and agreements for public discussion.
Second, the County is considering requests on the Tuesday July 10 agenda for reimposing education gross receipts taxes and a special education tax election. We urge the Commissioners to recognize the dire nature of the Great Recession and decline in commercial activity here in greater Taos. Taosenos have faithfully funded huge capital investments—about $90 million during the last five years at the County and Taos Municipal schools. Given the increase in electricity rates, both past and proposed, the tax-paying and rate-paying citizens don’t need no more stinkin’ taxes. Hold the line guys like you did against KCEC.
Third, the Town this week is considering another contract with Griffin and Associates for promoting tourism, which we do support. Business is still dribbling into restaurants and hotels. We need some rainmaking but not a new and unnecessary Command Center. (No bail out for KCEC!) Still, why is Taos always rated last in terms of occupancy rates, according to the Journal, among NM tourist destinations? I’m only asking.
A note on beauty, landscape and art. While driving around town during the fabulous Solar Music festival, I noticed the inordinate number of tacky signs, sandwich boards, traffic directional and municipal promotional signs, which give a certain ironic twist to the name of Taos as an “art community.” Even local artists exhibit tawdry hand-painted signs advertising their wares. We are still a tourist community and could present a prettier face to the traveler.
Count the signs per tenth of a mile and you’d be amazed. An elected official in the Town led the charge during the Memorial Day weekend by posting gross banners on his bar and restaurant—illegal under the Town’s sign code—but permitted by political policy. In fact commercial violations of the sign code are regularly permitted by the town’s code enforcement officers and cops. Meanwhile, the Mayor’s one-man vendetta against the sign man continues. Jeff’s right to free speech is protected by the First Amendment—even if the signs themselves are as ugly as the political corruption they condemn. Form meets function in modernity.
P.S. Just because Butchie is gone doesn’t mean lame-duck commissioners should think nobody is watching as they conspire to replace the executive staff at the county and do who knows what with the LUDC on this week’s agenda. Let’s be gracious and patient guys, wait for the new team. I’m just saying…
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