Sharks at the County: Blood in the Water
So the Taos County Commissioners fired manager Jake Caldwell and you might ask what gives?
According to several sources, a continuing controversy at the jail is one of the major sources of Jake’s demise. (The real source is “envidia” and the “perversity” that follows but that’s a subject for the cultural journalists.) Apparently, the commissioners believe the promotion of a recent guard to sergeant is not merited due to unconfirmed rumors about contraband. Butchie Denver (RIP) also told me that one of the lame-duck commissioners is maneuvering for a job either at the Adult Detention Center or at the Juvenile Detention Center. There is more scandal waiting to break at the jail.
The “rumor” mentioned above is all over the county and the community, due to local telegraph operators, related to the above concerned parties. Apparently, Mr. Caldwell thought progress was being made at the adult detention center and preferred a more moderate approach to the problems, correcting the personnel problems, not just firing folks.
The County has other problems, due to structural deficiencies, related to issues that preceded the hiring of Mr. Caldwell.
Due to a combination of nepotism and poor supervision, the county might lose their management of the housing authority when the ongoing federal investigation is completed. News reports have focused on embezzlement at the facility. The problems at Taos County Housing Authority preceded Mr. Caldwell.
Then there is the problem of La Martina. Commissioner Chavez lost the election primarily due to his opposition to the proposed licensing of beer and wine at the historic dance hall. In Ranchos de Taos, the Struck family lobbied heavily against the license. But why?
According to Friction sources, the Strucks have managed the Ranchos Mutual Domestic Water System for years but they have no arrangement to provide La Martina with water. Supporters say she has drilled her own well. Now comes the kicker: She must provide an emergency fire system i.e. install a 15,000-gallon water tank. But if she does so on her property, she will lose parking spaces and be ineligible for a “Certificate of Occupancy.” So the County can stop La Martina, regardless of the state’s intervention re: the wine and beer operation.
The real danger here concerns fire danger and the mutual domestic water system, which needs upgrades. My sources say the fire hydrants in Ranchos Plaza would not be serviceable in the event of a fire. Comments by the Struck family about beer and wine introducing a criminal element into the community appear to be a cover for the inadequacy of the mutual domestic water system. The commissioners are aware of this problem and should seek funding to help the community rectify the situation, regardless of their hostility toward La Martina.
As for Jake Caldwell, Commissioner Dan Barrone, who voted against firing the manager, only said, “it’s frustrating. It’s not the best thing for the county.” Barrone said he believed in “continuity and thought Caldwell moved the county along. We should be proactive, not reactive.” Barrone also wondered who would want to work for the county if they changed managers every year.
Commissioners named County Attorney Barbara Martinez interim manager, while Caldwell is on “administrative leave” and the county pays off his contract.
The real beneficiaries of the Caldwell firing include Mayor Darren Cordova and KCEC CEO Luis Reyes, who will be forced to surrender the local headlines to the newsmakers at the county. Historically, when things go awry, the community needs a scapegoat as long as it is not the guy in the mirror, who is actually responsible. The County has learned a lot from the Town and the Coop. Blame somebody…
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