Taos Annexation Heats Up: Retaliation and A Secret Commission Meeting

By: Bill Whaley
5 April, 2013

On March 28, 2013, the president and mayordomo of the El Prado Water and Sanitation District, Telesfor Gonzales, published an ad, drumming up support for the community’s battle against the town’s proposed shoestring annexation of the Taos Airport via six miles of Highway 64 through El Prado. The Gonzales ad reproduces cartoonist Bill Baron’s depiction of Taos Mayor Darren Cordova and his sidekicks: “Today, El Prado…Tomorrow the World!” (The Taos News, Feb. 21, 2013). In the ad Mr. Gonzales asks for support from surrounding communities and questions, “If the Town of Taos keeps annexing for a bigger tax base, where will Taos County find money to fix the roads and continue programs?”

That same day, March 28, when the ad debuted, the Town of Taos quickly responded to the Gonzales solicitation, sending a request for inspection of public records, asking El Prado Water and Sanitation District for, among other items, “a map of the boundaries,” “documents that demonstrate an ownership interest of the District in the right of way to Highway 64,” copies of agreements, audits, and records related to the District. Further the town asks for records related to Telesfor Gonzales, procurement and appraisals, and “any record relating to the ownership by the District of any real property in Costilla.” Tele’s got to pay.

On the one hand the request can be seen as tardy: the town should have requested these documents related to the District in advance of the proposed annexation. When the town requests copies of “agreement(s) between the District and the Town of Taos” one must wonder about the town’s filing system. Further, one can interpret the requests aimed at Telesfor Gonzales himself, the thirty-year mayordomo of the District, as retaliation.

According to El Prado residents, Town Councilors Michael Silva and Andrew Gonzales, the latter two allegedly with deep roots in the historic village of El Prado, are feeling the heat from their relatives in the village and in town. Requests to sign petitions opposing annexation jumped in response to the Gonzales ad in the March 28 issue of The Taos News. Members of outlying communities signaled their own opposition to the town’s empire building at the expense of the county and historic village residents.

To add more gasoline to the fire started by the El Prado—Airport annexation controversy, on April 1, a legal notice was published in the Albuquerque Journal re: a May 23-24 public hearing of the New Mexico Boundary Commission at the Town of Taos Council Chambers “to consider the Town of Taos’ Petition to annex various parcels of Taos County property.” According to the advertisement, the Town claims they’ve lost the records for property in Weimer, adjacent to Estes Es Road, Cruz Alta, Fernandez, Gusdorf, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Morada Lane, Kit Carson, Trujillo Lane, Ranchitos, La Posta, Peralta road, etc.

A few years ago, Taos County filed a “quo warranto” lawsuit against the Town, requesting clarification and by what means the town had annexed property in Taos County, due to controversies surrounding the Valverde Commons–Autumn Acres project adjacent to central Taos. According to researchers, the town omitted filing a copy of annexation ordinances with the county clerk per the statute for lo’ these many years.

Although the April 1 legal advertisement says interested parties may obtain information and maps from the town re: the May 23-24 public hearing, remember that both El Prado and Taos County were stone-walled by the town when they sought information about the annexation of the airport and highway—including maps. Insiders at the County are familiar with the boundary commission meeting but one might ask why the Town has not published a legal advertisement in the local weekly, regarding the older annexation controversy, which affects town residents, whose taxes have risen but have not received promised services per annexation.

What a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive.

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