New Political Realities: Fusion or Private—Public Partnerships

By: Bill Whaley
14 July, 2013

(Editor’s Note: “There is an informal meeting this evening, Monday, at the Commission Chambers at 5:30 to discuss proposed changes to the LUR (Land Use Regs).  Thank you, Tom Blankenhorn , 770-9410)

News reports today document the concept of fusion politics, a trend of public and private NSApartnerships, exemplified by outsourcing military contracts to private enterprise. As whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed, the intelligence sector has become big business for American corporations like Booz Allen which have contracts with NSA headquarters, pictured. Indeed, warehouse storage of information at places like Bluffdale, Utah, shown below, might alarm civil libertarians but the project is producing jobs for a new generation of hackers as well as temporary construction jobs. NSA Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah

Here in Taos, visionary KCEC CEO Luis Reyes, below, has taken the lead in bringing Broadband spy services and security protection to residents of northern New Mexico. Reyes’ own KCEC Command Center, which is scheduled to house the Town of Taos’s E911-Dispatch Center, will serve as the proposed nerve center of NSA’s extended sweeper service—despite objections by ratepayers and taxpayers, who find the federal mandate expensive and inept when it comes to public safety. The KCEC Trustees and Reyes have shamelessly exploited their relationship with the town to piggyback on taxpayer revenue. luis-volt-2

In an effort to comply with Reyes’ vision, Mayor Darren Cordova, a local entertainer, and the compliant Town of Taos council have reached out to fulfill Reyes vision of the Command Center, which will cost thousands of dollars but do little for public safety. In addition, the Mayor and his crew are attempting to annex and expand the municipal airport, future home of military Ospreys and police state Drones as well as millionaire visitors to Taos. In an effort to pay for all these changes, the town has reduced services and decreased the number of town employees either through attrition, layoffs, or via sabbaticals.

AnnexationDuring this last decade the town council proudly presided over a prudent reserve fund of several extra million dollars but the entertainer’s administration has apparently spent all the money in the rainy day fund. Now the County has stepped in to save the Arts and Cultural District from demise due to neglect and hostility at town hall. Indeed, the county is picking up the slack and implementing new plans for public safety at its own E911—Dispatch Center, due to fiscal and safety concerns. The Commission is also trying to stem potential gross receipts tax losses due to the town’s ill-advised shoe-string annexation of the airport.

DarrenMeanwhile, at the Town, the recently hired police chief has resigned. The town manager, we hear, was put on leave, and a longtime legal aid, who sees the handwriting on the wall, is running for municipal judge. The Town Attorney, who struck out in district court on the annexation issue, might well be sending out letters, looking for work. One employee, the long-suffering Rudy Perea, we’re told remains in the planning department, the rest having resigned or fled to work at Taos Pueblo or Taos County. Apparently, the state is taking over building inspections and issuing building permits in the town. The town’s library now charges residents a usage fee. Insiders say the town’s jewel, the Youth and Family Center is a bit grimy. The Convention Center is going out for bid or going into mothballs.

n-snake-lightDuring any transition from the public to the private or as private interests take over the government, for example KCEC and the Centinel Bank exerting influence over the Town, there are disagreements about custom, traditions, and the decreasing role played by the rule of law. Certainly, the federal government’s spy program on citizens ignores the fourth amendment but that attitude is in the air. The town and coop have devolved from democratic practices into oligarchies—with little or no concern for taxpayers and members.

All that remains of democratic tradition and customs in Taos can be seen, ironically, at the county, where good timing, five reasonable commissioners, and an unduly competent staff, keep the County Complex on course. It is time for voters to consider a merger not just the town and county’s arts and cultural district but also of the planning departments, law enforcement and judicial functions, as well as E911—Dispatch operations, where the county’s stewardship of the public interest continues. The Town has a proven record of failure—lack of integrity and imagination–though the Mayor and his council have the corner on incompetence. n-cty judicialWe Taosenos should consider lobbying to merge the town and county, eliminate the costly duplication of services, while embracing a brighter more progressive future.

Here’s a good example of how the town has abrogated its responsibilities. Law enforcement in the town on weekends has been privatized and sorted out to volunteers and vigilantes. The cops themselves, as we know, serve as the Mayor’s private security force backed up by a local tow truck driver. If you have a problem, phone Triple A–call Amos Cohn. The Taos County Sheriff’s Office might not keep up their evidence logs, get fingerprints, or follow the evidence in murder and burglary cases but they are pretty good at showing up to keep the peace when it comes to domestic violence. Hey, we hear the DMC shock jock has been muzzled. Seizing Picket Signs 8The feud between Darren, Amos, and Jeff also needs adult supervision.

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