Town Defers to Experts and Mendacity

By: Bill Whaley
2 June, 2019

In an April 24, 2019, letter to Ms. Azalea Gusterson of the “Guardians of Taos Water” re: : INVITATION TO MAY 1 PUBLIC FORUM AND ASSOCIATED QUESTIONS,” Mayor Barrone (aka Balone), in a ham-handed excuse to avoid thinking and communicating with constituents, sent a ghostwritten epistle from his Minder, which begins by stating in an opening paragraph of some 145 words, a list of any and all agencies contiguous to and continuously involved in the Abeyta Settlement, denoting the “lengthy and extremely complex document that encompasses the legal results of years of litigation and rulings”…(ad nauseam). Throw it all on the wall and hope something sticks.

In a display of “Trumpism,” or an excuse to neither read nor study the Settlement, the Mayor’s Minder suggests only the “experts” can understand the issues and your local elected officials don’t qualify to comment on the infamous “Settlement.” In the spirit of Trump, who reads neither his briefings nor the constitution, the Mayor and his Ghostwriter state in a single paragraph:

“This multifaceted process is already approaching its fourth decade, meaning none of those holding office now were even in government when the process started, and some of our elected officials and staff were not even born yet. None of us in office today actually signed or were part of the approval process that took place before we arrived. The same also appears to be true for all of the other entities that you have invited and all of the agencies that are now involved in the Settlement implementation.”

The confession of ignorance, while honest, ignores the basic principles of what it means to be a citizen or elected official, educated or not, in the United States. Surely one should not criticize the Mayor and his Minder for ignoring the derivation of the constitution from historic Judeo-Christian Greco-Roman principles upon which this country was founded, transmogrified by the principles of the Enlightenment, embodied by the founding signatories to the U.S. Constitution. A la President Trump and AG William Barr, you’d be surprised how quick local officials follow the cues from Washington D.C.

This last semester in my English 120 class at UNM-Taos students read the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence among other documents, including brief excerpts from the Hebrew and Christian Bible, while writing about the virtues and vices of said documents. They finished off their studies by reading, discussing, and writing about R.C. Gordon McCutchan’s “The Taos Indians and the Battle for Blue Lake,” a book which mentions, and pictures folks involved in the “Settlement.” None of the students complained about not being born at the time of Moses, Socrates, Jesus, Jefferson, Lincoln, or Juan de Jesus Romero, the Taos Pueblo Cacique who fought a 60 year battle for the return of Blue Lake. Some of the students have even met folks like Gilbert Suazo and others involved in the Settlement. In another class students read TVAA board member Sylvia Rodriguez’s book on Acequia issues.

Contrary to the Town’s position, several activists and negotiators involved in said “Settlement” at Taos Pueblo, El Prado Water and Sewer District, as well as Taos Valley Acequia Association (a current board member wrote a quintessential book on water and Abeyta issues) still live and breathe. Taos County journalist Kay Matthews, too, has written and discussed a plethora of articles and books on Aamodt and Abeyta issues. The Mayor was on the Taos County Commission when the Public Welfare Committee for the Taos Regional Water Plan was debated but maybe he forgot: too busy cutting down trees.

Apparently, the Mayor, Town Council, and the Ghost Writer would rather sleep or tweet in long rambling incoherent letters, as excuse for not acting, than do the hard work of “thinking” and “communicating” the issues. The Council, apparently mesmerized by rock and roll, would rather rubber-stamps lies to constituents than educate themselves. The Town needs a new Mayor and Town Council, folks familiar with the community and its history.

At a recent TCA quasi-academic forum on New Mexico, the academics lauded the “complexity” of New Mexico as mysterious and suggested how the area offers an antidote to mainstream America. Nothing is stranger than the Abeyta Settlement. As Hamlet says, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt in your philosophy.” Shakespeare might have studied Plutarch’s lives of famous Taoseños.