Bon Appetite in the Belly of the Beast

By: Bill Whaley
18 October, 2011

At Judge Big Geno Sanchez court at Taos Municipal”11 am–Mr. Occupy Taos will serve as the target of the towns jackbooted accusers. Yes, sign-waver, Jumpin’ Jeff Northrup will be tried for violating an array of alleged town rules for public pickets. Course, a certain local newspaper that flogs politicians and sucks up the margins from business will be allowed to invade the highways and byways amidst the traffic each Thursday. But Jeff doth go too far: He Insulteth the Mayor and his Dominions.

After taking the local chamber in new directions out of the historic district into the warehouse and office complexities of the outer boroughs former CEO Steve Fuhlendorf has slipped from the mouth down to the belly of the beast Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, Inc. What with all its divisions, sub-divisions, and controversial borrow and spend policies, the new public relations maven will have his hands full with CEO Luis Reyes creative use of the language.” The Green Wave Fallon, Nevada high school grad, former spokesperson for the odd gambling saloon will now make nice with the Reyes’ Eleven, provide cover for the travel plans and millions in current and projected losses, while seeing to the re-election of the lucky seven trustees, who are running hard to escape the black marks of the PRC hearings. Steve’s singing “Yo Ho Eleven.” Mr. Fuhlendorf’s pragmatic decision is well taken. He’s got a “Heart of Gold.”

The local business climate seems subject to evaporation even as hope springs eternal and their eyes are watching for signs of the Lord’s largesse at TSV. Over the weekend, three announcements reached Flavio’s ears: the OBL is closing Nov. 1, according to its staff but the wine shop—liquor store will remain open. The Stakeout closed (and sold its liquor license to an El Prado-based oil company, which plans to make more booze available north of town) .

Apparently, residents from El Prado north are underserved. According to further employee leaks, Doc Martin’s at the Taos Inn will close for winter in January. The historic Kachina Lodge lost its designation as a Best Western franchise. Shortly thereafter we saw the for sale signs go up—since removed. BTW: TSV will be open weekends only until Xmas. We don’t know what will happen in January. You pass holders better call all your weekday-skier buddies.

We who live at the northwest gateway to the Bridge and Mesa, adjacent to the once and future blinking light, anxiously await the opening of the Quonset Hut Brew Pub—a monument to modernity–behind Waste Management. Here are some guys who put their money where their mouths and hands are. Unlike La Martina, they fear not to tread on toes. Hey La La, nice guys and gals finish last in Taos—if they finish at all (even before they jump).

The move toward off-sale liquor suggests we shall all stay home, drink alone, and drown our sorrows in silence–before we ramp up for the next dance.

The tension is rising down at the County Complexity even as the smiles breakout: Election season is upon us. From office to office, the gals gathered round the water coolers are cooing. The Vaunted Vangie at Treasury and Excellent Elaine at the Clerk’s office are termed out. (We may never see their like again!) Upstairs the County Commissioners are negotiating their way round the redistricting puzzle, trading precincts and looking for ways to satisfy geography and population, while maintaining the gerrymandered status of getting re-elected.

The big action in the County next year pits incumbent Andrew Chavez against all dissatisfied and aspiring comers in the Talpa—Llano, Ranchos area. Up in Arroyo Hondo proper and out on the Hondo Mesa, down to Upper Las Colonias and across to Blueberry Hill and El Prado, you will see a plethora of as yet—unnamed candidates—vie to succeed Nick “The Nitpicker” Jaramillo, who is term limited. Wags say County Commission meetings will shrink from marathons to sprints once the man who defined the movida exits.

Hey, I didn’t get upstairs to observe the wheels of justice but I don’t hear any complaints, yet, about the jail—no escapes. Willy’s got his eye on you. Computer lock-ups working. Inmates happy to be home at the county hotel. Grudging murmurs from the cynical suggest that Judge Sarah, much observed, and Judge Andrea, less observed, are gaining the respect of their colleagues. Except for the unrelated Lopez duo, we don’t know who else, besides the incumbents, might run for district judge next year.

The KCEC Protesters are seeking a few honest men and women to run with Trustee Luisa Mylet against the current cadre of self-interested Reyes Men. Handicappers are betting that Nick will run for the board—he’s lonely unless occupying office. Maybe Judge Erminio should try again. Two gadflies, like Nick and Minio, would keep the boppers bopping.

Anything’s possible and hope springs eternal. A long winter’s night is coming but, as the poet Shelley said, “If Winter’s come, can spring be far behind?” From January until June, 2012, you will see the local spin cycle at the Town, County, Coop, and 8th Judicial District heat up like the worldwide climate. The politicians are coming to a door near you.

Open Meetings Act Followed?

TMS Union News

Hello everyone,

Last Friday, Richard Quintana and I attended a meeting at the PED with four board members, Dr. Weston, Esther Winters, Connie Wood, Deb Zurzola, and Ms. Rice, the private auditor the district has hired to do the current audit and reconcile previous audits.

We met with Paul Aguilar, the state Deputy Director of Finance, and two of his staff members for the purpose of determining how a sizeable amount of ‘lost’ funds (potentially $700,000) was discovered through current audit processes, and how the monies can be used if confirmed as extant. We will not know the final figures until the audit is completed in December whether these extra funds exist, but our financial consultant and the PED budget director for our region were confident we will have a surplus.

How did this happen? Here’s what we know: the money was not accounted for asthe result of managerial turnover and a faulty audit in 2008-2009. That audit was commissioned by the previous board and conducted by a company called Keystone Audit. 2008-2009 was a year in which there were multiple superintendents. One of them, Bobby Gonzales, acted as both superintendent and finance director (because the prior finance director had been dismissed) for seven months at the rate of $l per day.

Again, we will not know what accounting or auditing mistakes were made until thecurrent audit is complete, but whatever the case, Paul Aguilar said during the meeting he intends to file a complaint against Keystone with the State Auditors Office. It has been an expensive, frustrating undertaking, but the district books are finally being balanced after five years of total dysfunction at the board level.

What comes next?

First of all, we have to remember that the money-if it exists-is not part of our fixed budget. It is a surplus that we will have for this year only. Both Mr. Aguilar and Dr. Weston would like to see the school year schedule restored and we have already entered into meet and confer negotiations over buying back some or all of the furlough days.

Union leadership has also heard that there are essential positions that need to be filled at various schools so that programs and departments can function. Dr. Weston is going to hold voluntary staff meetings next Tuesday for anyone who has questions on this issue. (I’m sure he’ll send out a notice of time and venue). If you have any questions or suggestions (and I hope you do!), please email me at or call me at 613-3075.


• Jeff Carr is running as an incumbent for the Public Education Commission. He isfeatured in an article about charter schools in this week’s Santa Fe Reporter. It’s important reading: http://www.sfreporter.comlsantafe/article-6346-fox-in-the-henhouse.html

There is a meet and greet for the Taos Democratic Party at the Country Club at 5:30 today, (Thursday 13th)


• Occupy Taos, a rally in support of Occupy Wall Street, will begin at 4 p.m. onTaos Plaza. School employees have taken a 10% cut (along with the rest oftheworking class) in the four years since Wall Street bankers’ gross acts of fraudcrashed the global economy. Taxpayers like us gave these crooks trillions ofdollars in bailouts. Are you angry? See you on the plaza!