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Thursday, August 14, 2014

GOP Chair Counterpunches Attacks From GOP State Rep. Plus: A Letter From Taos 

GOP Chair John Billingsley sounds like a man ready to do battle to retain his chairmanship. Responding to a lengthy critique of his tenure by GOP State Rep. Zack Cook (available on our Tuesday blog), Billingsley wrote his own letter to GOP State Central Committee members jabbing back at Cook, labeling his attacks "petty politics" and denying that he or the party had anything to do with fielding a primary challenger against Cook.

The (Cook comments) were made in an attempt to discredit the party and me. It is sad to see that some within our party slander Republicans rather than working to expose our main opposition--the progressive Democrat agenda. . .

Full Billingsley letter here.

Billingsley has never been a favorite of the Guv's political machine and all this back and forth is seen as the prelude to a possible attempted coup against the chairman when the central committee votes on the  position later this year.

There are also clues here about possible infighting that could occur among House Republicans if they were lucky enough to take over the House this November and then vote on a speaker to lead them.

A LETTER FROM TAOS

Approaching the tail end of the summer season here in Taos--a little treasure of a town but with a history that would fill your largest bookshelf--brings thoughts of its future.

Pre-Crash Taos is gone forever, perhaps never to return. The town is tidy, the tourism traffic seems relatively healthy for a mid-week in August and the quality of life here remains high. But the cash flow is cramped. Restaurants and the boutiques are more likely to be middle brow than high brow reflecting the "new economy."

A friend whose wife sells real estate in Taos County says the force of some 300 real estate brokers of the pre-crash days has been halved. Taos depended on the wealthy who would purchase second homes and retirees looking for the laid back life. There is a lot of wealth these days but in fewer hands and more retirees are staying put to save.

The impact of the national economy on this iconic tourist town is joined--somewhat controversially--by another take on Taos. It argues that the art colony established here a hundred years ago and that drew world acclaim--has tired. They assert that the new art does not have the edge of the old and that new generations aren't as interested. Of course, there is the price issue as well. When tourists were dropping $3,000 on a painting, there was more room for artists to get creative. . .

The local culture remains strong and--as in the past--often world-class. A stop at the Millicent Rogers Museum reveals it to be very alive and thriving . A new exhibit featuring the life of Fred Harvey--the key figure in promoting New Mexico and the West over a century ago--is drawing good crowds. So is a display of Indian pottery by the legendary Maria Martinez of San Ildefonso that opened last April.

Eccentricity, environmentalism and ego all still define the town. Hippies from the 60's--now old and gray--are still here having found the permanent escape they so ardently sought in their youth. The local coffeehouse does not offer cardboard sleeves to calm the effect of a hot cup on your hand--not environmentally correct--and the locals are egotistical--in a healthy way--about their town. They know it remains unique as homogenization stalks societies everywhere. The protective instinct is subtle, but there.

As for that hard-to-grasp future, people will always want to live here because of the natural beauty, the mellow life and the attachment to the land that for many goes back centuries. As for the economy that will be here in five or ten years , a number of TaoseƱos we chatted up said the town may be transitioning to more "eco-tourism." That means more hunters, fishermen, skiers and rafters as the art world takes a lesser role.

Taos may be little in size but its importance to New Mexico and its future is oversized. This is where the ancient met the modern and built a coalition that became a showcase for the world. The Taos example has never been more valuable as our state at large does its own transition--into this new and exceptionally challenging era.

THE BOTTOM LINES

We screwed up this week on who beat whom in recent land commission races. Here's the correct info:

Republican Pat Lyons was elected Land Commissioner in 2002 and re-elected in 2006, not 2010. He beat Democrat Jim Baca in 2006 for re-election. And Democrat Ray Powell first served as Commissioner from 1993-2003, getting appointed by Gov. King when Baca moved up to head the BLM under Clinton. Powell beat Matt Rush in 2010, winning 52-47%.

Thanks to one of the Alligators for digging that all up. We're traveling in the North and it looks so good up here we're getting distracted.

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