American politics

Something incredibly important is on the horizon. On June 8, the Town of Taos Council will have a public hearing to gather public input before they decide to shorten their terms by 9 weeks, keep the election on March of 2022, or extend their terms by 1 year and 10 months!

Voting to extend their terms is an attack on democracy and takes away the power of the people to have a say in what would otherwise be a very contentious election. This is nothing short of a power grab in the Trumpian fashion to deny the citizens of Taos a say in their local government.

Rick Bellis is also claiming that opting-in will decrease voter fraud which is, "all too rampant in Taos." This dog whistle comes straight out of the Republican playbook we are seeing played out across this country in order to "prevent voter fraud."

Mr. Bellis, please, stop this nonsense. People see through your lies, half-truths, your demeaning people, your deflecting, and most of all your gas lighting. You must have been studying Trump - and say - how did that work out for him?

I feel I have to bring up another interaction with Mr. Bellis. On April 17, he posted on Facebook, "Because we have been advertising (for a lifeguard) and apparently no one wants the job." Tuesday, April 13 was the first day it was on the town website, "Lifeguard I Internal & External. Open until filled." It was first put in the newspaper Thursday, April 15. This is called a half-truth. It had only been out to the public a few days. This and his statement about fraudulent voting are just examples of how Mr. Bellis is.

I've done some investigating. The Council debated this very issue Nov. 27, 2018, when Councilmen Hahn, Evans and Barrone voted to opt-out and keep the election in March. Why the flip-flop now? Could it be that they see the groundswell of opposition to their many proposals - such as putting all of their energies into a $50 million airport expansion at the expense of the people of Taos. Are they trying to make Taos a destination for the corporate rich?

Rick Bellis said in 2018 that the cost to opt-in is significantly more than what was presented by the Town Clerk, but now is saying that opting-in is a cost-saving measure. It is always very difficult to figure out what Mr. Bellis says, he spreads so many half-truths and lies. Perhaps this is an attempt to blame the County Clerk like he did in 2018 when he argued against opting-in because he said Taos County was not following election practices.

Now he blames the County for not reopening the pool, youth and family center, and the library. Mayor Barrone is in favor of postponing the election for 1 year and 10 months, saying it will give people a stronger voice in town politics. How can taking away the people's right to vote give people a stronger voice?!

The Council must decide by the end of June, and the timeline for a vote on the ordinance is literally the shortest amount of time legally required to pass an ordinance. Rick Bellis says it would be "really, really heartbreaking" if the personal projects of the majority of the Council were not finished because of "voting yourself out."

Oh, come on, these are not the personal projects of anyone on the Council. These are tax-funded projects that the citizens of Taos need a voice and say in. This is what elections are about. If an administration is voted out, then their projects can and most likely will change. This is called democracy.

Please! Everyone needs to contact Francella Garcia (fgarcia@taosgov.com) and request to speak during the public hearing. They have the votes to extend terms, but maybe with enough public pressure, they will choose otherwise. This coming election NEEDS to be held this March. Unbelievable that Barrone, Hahn and Evans could, without a vote of the people, extend their terms by 1 year and 10 months. Call Barrone, Evans, and Hahn and tell them what you think of their undemocratic plans. Phone: 575-751-2002. You might want to call Mr. Bellis as well since he is the one running this town.

This is NOT democracy.

Mr. Bellis, if you know of voter fraud you need to bring it out. Voter fraud is a crime. Where's the proof? Where have we heard this before? Hmm.

Ron Hagg lives in Arroyo Hondo.

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