Taos: Rebirth and Fresh Starts

By: Bill Whaley
22 April, 2011

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” (Hamlet. Act I, scene 5)

When the spirit of symbolic practice coincides with secular forces, we should pay attention. On Sunday morning, some of us will join with Steve Wiard’s congregation at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge rest stop to watch the symbolic spirit of rebirth emerge above Taos Mountain. One cannot easily discount the spiritual manifestation of God and nature, when the sun and earth cooperate to spectacular effect.

Season of Sacrifice and Scapegoats

On a more mundane level, the April 21 stories in The Taos News brought a welcome relief to observers and activists who pray that their voice might be heard. Indeed, the world outside Taos has seen fit, whether due to the rule of law or the laws of economics to intervene in local affairs. Whether due to coincidence or an increasing struggle with change due to recognition, the editor of The Taos News, Joan Livingston, her sidekicks, and especially entertainer Bill Baron deserve a round of applause for the latest edition.

The important point about the story above the fold concerns the intervention of the state supreme court and the restoration of civil rights for residents of Taos Pueblo. Intervention by state regulatory agencies, including those supporting the rule of law—as opposed to political custom—might be the theme of this week’s newspaper. The editor deserves praise for her support of the First Amendment and observing the duty of a newspaper–despite the influence of advertisers and the power of the publisher.  Livingston has (temporarily) redressed the imbalance at the local weekly.

Specifically, the editorial “Members have a right to know how Kit Carson operates” and the cartoon “Hogs at the Trough” suggests the Cooperative and its good old boys are no longer a sacred cow.

Thanks to upcoming hearings at the state’s regulatory body, the Public Regulation Commission,  and the protestors, KCEC Luis Reyes and the Board of Trustees will have to face the music: Excessive compensation for the CEO and Trustees, mismanaged diversification into Propane, Internet, emergency services, and Broadband. The debt-driven company has lost sight of their mission to serve those members and employees who own the Coop. A pattern of political gerrymandering by anti-democratic trustees and the isolation of the two board members, who represent the members, indicate that the Coop more readily serves the majority of elected and appointed officials. It’s time for KCEC to offer members a new and more frugal vision that fits the age of lowered economic expectations.

Mr. Reyes has refused to open the books and allegedly coerced employees into funding an advertisement, supporting management and trustees. He has attacked or orchestrated attacks on members, who haven’t lived in Taos as long as he, an Arizona native, has. Mr. Reyes’s nativism is unworthy.

Perhaps Mr. Reyes should consider resigning so that the Coop can get a fresh start.

We congratulate the Town of Taos, “Serna Board agrees to withdraw land grant deed,” on gently prodding the La Serna land grant board to cancel their specious warranty deed filed against titles to some 20,000 acres of mostly private property. Despite the history of custom and customary power of long memories, the rule of law preserves economic and social stability in this otherwise capricious community. We have no doubt that many in the land grant community probably agree with the county commissioner, who is quoted in Gordon-McCutchan’s book, “Taos Indians and the Battle for Blue Lake,” saying “the land at issue has not been stolen but fairly taken through conquest” (P. 145). Injustices should be remembered but community forums, not the county clerk’s office, are the appropriate place for such discussions.

We were surprised to read a reporter’s (grudging) story entitled, “State to audit Taos district.” Previously, and there’s more work to do, The Taos News has suppressed the real story about Taos Municipal Schools, whose administrators have been “gaming” the system for years, not only in the Special Ed department but in finance and teacher promotions, while ignoring student education (See test scores, grad rates, civil rights law suits). Annually, auditors criticize the schools for lacking an inventory of assets, whether of the historic art collection or vocational equipment. Gov. Martinez and Secretary of PED Skandera can’t look too closely at TMS, where the pattern of failure has been confirmed by a number of audits. The current Superintendent, Rod Weston should resign so that Taosenos can implement site-based management of their own schools.

Inside “The Taos News,” a story, “Council discusses changes to water policy,” suggests that the Town is trying to redress issues of non-compliance within the community. Issues of annexation, private wells, and a lack of sewer hook-ups all affect the municipality’s ability to operate a proper water and sewer system. Fairness suggests the town must amortize private investments and pro-rate hook-up fees.

Both old and new commercial entities have avoided paying their share of the fees, causing residents and businesses to suffer from very high water fees. (A comparison shows that El Prado Water and Sanitation has less expensive water fees than the Town of Taos.)

If the Town’s wells and private wells continue to mine a variety of deep and shallow aquifers without concern for the hydrological effects, then more acequias like the Spring Ditch and its surface pond will be destroyed just as the Sanchez Ditch in the Autumn Acres project is being sapped by development, according to parciantes. Ultimately, the Abeyta—Taos Pueblo Water Settlement encourages regulation and conservation of water use. The Town Council needs to address—not ignore—its responsibilities to its citizens, parciantes, and water users in greater Taos County.

We trust the good intentions of the council but not the implementation by staff of same.

While analyzing the paper work regarding developer Moises “Little Ramon” Martinez’s commercial condo project at 1335 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, we have come up with an answer to his previous response. He asked: “Has Whaley become so jaded in his distrust and disdain of local government that he thinks that one could possibly get away with construction of a commercial building without a building permit or hook-up to town water and sewer without the required permits?”

We are more than jaded, Little Ramon, we are disgusted with the lack of code enforcement and don’t blame you for the lapse. A developer is expected to play cat and mouse. It’s up to the cat to catch the mice. To wit: Without going into detail, according to the town’s record, Mr. Martinez’s “temporary occupancy permit” lapsed for the “Fun Peak” facility from 9—19—10 until 3—17-11. Or maybe the Town lost the paperwork? Quien Sabe?

Since we posted our previous story about Mr. High Pockets aka Little Ramon, we are told that he recently paid some of his water and sewer fees at Town Hall. But, according to the Town’s LUDC, a developer could be fined $500 a day for neglecting the occupancy permit process. Who’s in charge?

According to Town Manager Daniel Miera’s previous letter to Martinez, open space fees were suspended due to some convoluted logic. But the Manager never mentioned the developer’s ex post facto claim of condominium privilege. Indeed, a mouse appeared to be feeding on the cheese at 1335 Paseo del Pueblo Sur while the Cat worries only about a dispute with the Mayor, garnering support for his raises and severance packages.

The Martinez development on the main highway has been brought to Miera’s attention by any number of staff and citizen complaints. Children use the “Fun Peak” facility. We urge the town to enforce “health, safety, and welfare” rules re: “occupancy permits.”

We need a breath of fresh air and functioning government at Town Hall that will implement the ordinances and policies signed off on by the Mayor and Council. We believe the elected officials would like to do the right thing. But the staff needs to cooperate.

The day after tomorrow, to some the world will feel reborn. On the streets of Taos, some people will join AA, give up politics, or take the vow. In the case of administrators, addition by subtraction can effectively lead, at least temporarily, to new life.

Perhaps Mr. Miera should join Mr. Reyes and Mr. Weston, resign from his position, and get a fresh start.

Editor’s Note: Little Ramon’s claim: ” I may have been relatively poor growing up but have always believed that hard work and ingenuity lead to success.” A more accurate characterization of Mr. Martinez’s family background may be “modest,” according to longtime family members. They describe the upbringing of Little Ramon as sheltered from the storms–thanks to his mother and sisters. 

Category: Education, Factoid, KCEC, News, Political Satire, Politics, Taos County, Taos Municipal Schools, Town of Taos | RSS 2.0 Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

No Comments

Comments are closed.