Taos summer season ends on a high note

By: Bill Whaley
30 August, 2012

Once again, free speech guardian, Jeff Northrop, the sign man and symbol of the times, has triumphed over the establishment at the Town of Taos municipal court. Judge Kirsten Edwards has found the gadfly “not guilty” and dismissed the town’s complaint for “violation of the sign code. “ In the latest attempt to jail the miscreat, Planning Department Director William Morris, code administrator, and code official Manuel Pacheco, failed to follow the plain language of the sign regulations and busted the sign man—wrongly. According to the code, the public right away in town is not so vague but is “Any street, road, highway, alley or sidewalk open to and used by the public within the municipal limits of the Town of Taos.” Nor does the code specifically limit the number of temporary signs used for political reasons. Both officials testified to vague and imaginary distances–disallowed by the code itself–during the trial of Northrup on a “right away violation.”

A second case remanded from district court by Judge John Paternoster to municipal court was never refiled and so dismissed. So Northrup is 5–0 since the all star break.

The remaining charges by the Mayor and his Gang against the sign man include a nebulous charge of criminal trespass, wherein the sign man at great legal peril, allegedly ignored a restraining order, and brought an unsafe fireworks situation to the attention of the Mayor and his patriotic friends on the fourth of July a couple of years ago. Perjured testimony during a kangaroo court hearing led to a conviction of the watchdog, a decision since appealed to district court.

At a Public Regulation Commission today, the august body appointed a hearing officer to oversee public hearings in Taos at a time and date TBA  on the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative’s violation of a PRC order and threat to assets. The PRC had ordered the cooperative to spin-off the Broadband project to an independent entity. Sources say once the Coop’s draws its loan for Broadband, the local REA-era Coop will be about $93 million in debt to the feds et al.

Activists urge members to attend the hearing (s) and persuade the PRC to enforce the order and reduce the liability for members, whose assets, unbeknownst to them, have been mortgaged for the reckless broadband project.

The clash of state and federal laws regarding the Coop’s  mortgaged assets underscores the recurring problem of federalism—feds v. states’ rights—a problem much referred to in this week’s GOP convention. Indeed, KCEC could take its place beside the ill-fated Solyndra disaster as a rallying point for Romney-Ryan attacks on Obama energy and the Keynesian “ARRA” economics. The basic issue in this year’s presidential election concerns the haves v. the have nots—not unlike the issue of KCEC trustees (the haves) v. the members (the have nots).

Despite the critics and naysayers, Coop Trustee Manuel Medina told a friendly audience on Tuesday, Aug. 28th, out in the parking lot of La Cocina, that the Coop was doing fine and explained how KCEC helped everyone and how much better the Coop performed than the County or the Town here in Taos. (Nobody is about to argue with a Medina out in the parking lot.) And KCEC CEO Reyes also said if you needed a boost for your winter wood supply to give him a call at 575-758—2258. A quorum of both the Chicano Chamber and the KCEC Trustees dined at La Cocina—all of whom had high praise for the effectiveness of electric lights as well as the preparation of the red and green chile.

The fantasists at the GOP convention, like KCEC Broadband aficionados, town code enforcers, and even the County hugsters, are living in an era founded on the obsolete and anachronistic notions of the last century. Even the mainstream media has been upended by the sign man’s simple handmade messages—an antidote to the 30-second spot or ¼ page display ad. The cultural paradigm has shifted radically this summer away from government dependence toward community independence. As folks go about their daily business, they see little reason for an LUDC:  “Why bother with regulations drawn up by those who are not from here?” Some local commissioners  have sold out the community, according to residents and violated sacrosanct local customs.

While corporations live largely off taxpayer deals, government contracts, or by tempting consumers with un-necessaries, innovative farmers’ markets, artists who create objects from recycled materials, and individual off-the-grid energy applications, are all a growing trend that will undermine the status quo. For instance, despite the powerful medicine makers at Taos Pueblo, who closed the parking lots to vendors and visitors at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, both have survived and thrived by simply moving across the fabled bridge to the West Side of the Gorge. Out there on the mesa under the three ears (Tres Orejas)–a suitable substitute for the sacred Mountain–or among the earthshippers, avant-garde anarchists and experimenters pursue the research and development of self-sufficiency for the 21st Century.

Nothing unites your Taosenos like the idea of the coming apocalypse. Viva Taos.


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