Los Pendejos de Taos: Fernandez Beats Barrone Machine in Prelims

By: Contributor
4 March, 2018

From a Contributor: “Et Tu Pavel?”

This Mayoral race almost went to Barrone without competition.  These are the facts and how it happened.

On Feb. 9, 2018, a suit was filed by Michael Miro, Plaintiff, claiming that Renee Lucero, the Town Clerk, had erred in certifying Darien Fernandez to run for Mayor.

The suit originally started out with Pavel Lukes as the Plaintiff but after his name was associated with the suit via front page stories in the Taos News, the Plaintiff changed to Michael Miro.  Lukes, preparing to bring the suit, asked Cynthia Spray (a very close friend of Rick Bellis, the Town Manager) for the name of a lawyer to process the required paper work.  Betsy Musselman was chosen and the suit was filed.

On Feb. 28, 2018, the Lukes/Miro suit was heard in the 8th District Court by a Santa Fe judge because all of the Taos judges recused themselves.  It was abundantly clear to the judge that the suit was specifically designed to remove Fernandez as a Mayoral candidate and automatically assure Barrone’s “re-election.”   The judge overwhelmingly ruled in Fernandez’ favor.

Mayor Barrone was given the chance to ask that the Lukes/Miro suit not go forward and allow the electoral process to run its course.  Barrone declined to do so hoping, instead, for a judgment favorable to him and an automatic continuation as Mayor.

Editor’s Note: In a recent court case (Michael Miro v. Town of Taos Clerk), which challenged the residency of Darien Fernandez, candidate for mayor, the court decided Friday against the Barrone clan and surrogates, who challenged said candidate’s residency. “Reportedly, M. Miro lives in a “glass house.”)

In sum, the court found that the Barrone et al petition was neither timely nor effective: the petitioners missed the “ten-day” deadline. Further, the court found that Fernandez had complied with the town’s rules for registration in terms of identifying voter registration and simultaneous residential address within the town. The court’s summary of case law referred to a New Mexico [custom] wherein “intent” and “significant physical presence [are] conjoined.” While relatives or La Familia de Fernandez (testified on different sides of the issue), as is typically Taos re: the rules of the Fernandez house, the court noted that Candidate Fernandez also, from time to time, resided at another residence within the city limits of the Town of Taos (unlike Mr. Barrone’s primary residence in Lower Las Colonias, adjacent to his tenant, Mr. Bellis).

Below, the increasingly moderate [Rev.] Robert J. Silver, delivers a rather modest “Tirade” in taking the current Mayor to task for his shortcomings as well as the excellent local weekly’s lack of logic. In effect Mr. Silver challenges the notion that Mr. Barrone’s “Pigs can Fly.”


Fool Me Twice?

By Robert J. Silver

“You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”
—Abraham Lincoln

The unanswered question surrounding the current Taos election is whether the people of Taos will allow themselves to be played for fools, suckers, and dupes yet again.

Journalistic Judgment

The local weekly’s recent endorsement of Mayor Barrone was deeply disappointing. Its rationale provokes unbounded dismay. In one breath, we are told that Mayor Barrone should be re-elected because of his past ability to get things done. In the next, we are told that he has lost the trust of the community, but he should be reelected anyway. Finally, we are offered the breathtakingly absurd suggestion that the solution to the mayor’s credibility problem is the absence of expert public relations guidance.

As for getting things done, haven’t we learned that ends rarely if ever justify means? Isn’t trading democracy for patched potholes much too high a price to pay? Fascists get things done. Mussolini made Italy’s trains run on time. But how one gets things done matters. Process matters. Democracy dies without it.

Mayor Barrone gained the mistrust of the community through his deeply flawed policy positions and tactics. His problem was not one of poor public relations. It was the result of the products he was shoving down the throats of the people, not their packaging. As the old saying goes, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig!”

Mayor Barrone’s “Proven” Leadership

The legal challenge to Darien Fernandez’s candidacy for Taos mayor recklessly pursued by a cadre of Barrone supporters kept the Taos election in three days of limbo-like uncertainty this past week. Fortunately, visiting judge David K. Thompson acted with wisdom and common sense in rejecting the plaintiff’s assault on the political process, ratifying Fernandez’s legitimacy and refusing to disenfranchise voters. Both the process and the outcome of these events powerfully disconfirmed Mayor Barrone’s widely trumpeted and patently empty claim to “Proven (good) Leadership.”


The circumstance presented a rare opportunity for a true leader to act wisely, imaginatively, courageously, honorably, and even heroically, insisting the issue be best resolved in the political arena, not in the courtroom.


Court documents are devoid of any mention Barrone intervention as the matter was being adjudicated. Our “proven” leader apparently stood by passively in the face of a potential political train wreck in his town. In this moment of truth, Barrone once again was anything but a profile in courage. He stonewalled instead of acting in this electoral near-crisis, refusing to call off his lawsuit-instigating surrogates.


Could Barrone have really been comfortable with the prospect of his sole opponent being removed from the ballot and being returned to office by default?

How Barrone could imagine this as a path to popular perception of legitimately acquired political power is mystifying. Clearly, Fernandez supporters would never see the mayor’s office as fairly won. Barrone and Fernandez are undoubtedly both in this contest to win. But how one wins matters. Ironically, had

Barrone stepped in, withdrawing his lawsuit-surrogates and protecting the Town’s political process, he likely would have immediately won back many who had lost trust in him. Indeed, he would have had persistent critics like me singing his praises.

There’s a certain fitting justice here, for Mayor Barrone is once again exposed as lacking the instinct and perhaps the capacity for real leadership. Barrone’s ads tout his proven leadership. Once again, his leadership has been tested and found sadly lacking. If anything has been “proven,” it is that Barrone is not the leader of our dreams.

Then too, we must not overlook the inseparability of Mayor Barrone and Town Manager, Rick Bellis in corrupting and compromising mayoral leadership. Joined at the hip, the head, and the heart, voting to retain Barrone is a vote for Bellis-Barrone. Of a single mind, we should reasonably call them by the combined name “Bell-one” (rhymes with, sounds like and tastes like “baloney”). Voting for Barrone is voting for more baloney. Taos needs no more baloney.

Risk vs. Certainty

A vote for Darien Fernandez for mayor would be a vote for the less politically experienced candidate, one with less of an elective office track record. This has been cited by some as risky. Yet despite his relatively brief tenure in public office, it was his conciliatory persistence, an intuitive wisdom beyond his years, that led to the four-story hotel compromise and cleaned up the mess made by Mayor Barrone’s experienced though failed leadership.

Mayor Barrone has cornered the market on certainty in this contest. But his is a certainty we do not need. Another term for Barrone would most certainly bring more of what we have already found unacceptable: the same baloney, tone-deaf, divisive, conflict-creating, unresponsive leadership, and the continued tenure of the roundly mistrusted Rick Bellis.

Barrone has made worthy contributions to the Taos community in times past. That is what got people like me to support and vote for him when he ran for mayor four years ago. But that was a different Dan Barrone. His time has now passed. Fernandez brings to the mayor’s office the value of not just who you know, but also what you know. He is the candidate for the Taos of our tomorrows. Barrone has lately begun to speak the language of transparency and consensus, but we’ve been fooled before. An old saying seems apropos.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Let’s not be fooled again.

Vote for Fernandez for mayor.

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