Town Takes Park and Keeps it!

By: Bill Whaley
16 August, 2019

On August 14, Wednesday evening, the Friends of Kit Carson Park held a meeting at the Kit Carson Boardroom to discuss complaints about the town’s violations of ordinances, regarding high decibels, late hours, and the lack of public restrooms, a problem raised by the Town’s concert promotions that draw some 8 or 9 thousand (mostly) rock’n rollers. Nearby residents in the historic district and folks who walk in the park discussed its closure before, during, and after concerts, and the decline in atmospherics caused by the newly erected Leviathan altar saluting rock’n roll,  as well as the chain link fences that clash with and keep folks away from the bucolic environs.

(Nobody spoke for the nearby Kit Carson, Arthur Manby (alleged), and Mabel Dodge Luhan (among others), who continue in their dreamless sleep in the cemetery).

Members of the town staff and elected officials joined the conversation. Manager Bellis, the charming ironist, tried to undermine the Friends’ claims re: “lack of communication,” saying threats of litigation had cut short dialogue between Town and Friends re: “attorney’s advice.” The red-faced and righteous Mayor, Dan Barrone evoked his past experience, coaching under onerous circumstances in the Park and swore (virtually) on the lives of his grandchildren that he, too, was a friend of the Park.

(Public officials frequently use the “attorney” as platitude and excuse to avoid taking responsibility just as they always worry about how to keep “the kids” coming back to Town, the Town that Time Forgot.)

Friends Activist and Attorney Bill Burden analyzed the vague language of the statutes, ordinances, and joint power agreement, affecting the Park. Gadfly Bob Silver mentioned he was stimulated to support the Friends due the “injustice” imposed on the citizens, whose participation in the conversion of the Park from “walk to rock” was abnegated. He also mentioned his “ex parte” communication with Manager Rick Bellis.  Bill and Bob brought their naive “good will” to a political knife fight and, they, like the Friends got outmaneuvered last night.

However, the meeting ended with Satisfaction. All who attended had their say, pro and con, including Councilors Pascualito Maestas and Darien Fernandez. If the Town held public meetings prior to their policy of fiat and “fait accompli,” the community divisiveness would live a shorter life. But Bellis and Barrone, according to the record, apparently prefer exercising their autocracy behind closed doors.

Caveat to Activists:

1. Public bathrooms have historically challenged Town fathers and the occasional mother. It took three decades to resolve the plaza public bathroom issue (as it did the Municipal Schools at the High School football field). Porta-Johns are this century’s response to last century’s outhouses.

2. Despite its bucolic atmosphere, Taos is a tough town. In Town and in the villages, you must keep your wits about you. Local Politics is an art, not a science, but also a blood sport. The statutes or regulations are merely opportunities for interpreting the law, according to political custom. And custom is fungible, malleable, and idiosyncratically human. Conquest and colonization continue, hence resistance (on all sides) abides (like the Dude).

3. The lack of vision and poor public relations of the Barrone-Bellis administration, combined with the Native Hispanic diaspora, has created a political vacuum in the Town. A coalition of younger native Taosenos and business people, along with an older group of natives and newcomers, is slowly forming. Coalition members support reasonable and imaginative candidates, who believe in “friendly” and “transparent” government. They may threaten the king and his minister in an electoral coup de grace.

Postscript. While everybody mentioned fiddles and guitars and the Townies whined about the decline in gross receipts Wednesday eve, nobody mentioned “all the lonely storefronts” in the Historic District. Hence the witch still rides her broom and howls like Lear during a full moon over the Plaza.