Mother’s Day Letter To Taos Council And Mayor On Regional Coalition Of LANL Communities

Dear Council and Mayor,

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. We are writing today to remind ourselves of The “Appeal to Womanhood Throughout the World” later known as “Mother’s Day Proclamation” by Julia Ward Howe which was an appeal for women to unite for peace in the world, and to ask that the town seriously revisit its unquestioning and continued membership in the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (RCLC.)

The case for continued membership in the RCLC presented to the Taos County Commission on May 3 was neither convincing nor consistent. Commissioners voted 4-1 to withdraw from the RCLC. At this time the City of Santa Fe voted not to approve the Restated and Amended Joint Powers Agreement and is expected to leave the RCLC.  Santa Fe County Commission is also reconsidering its membership. Several of our members have attended many RCLC meetings in an attempt to reform the RCLC from within.  After more than three frustrating years, it is now clear the RCLC will never respond to public concerns voiced. This is clear to anyone who has ever attended an RCLC  meeting.

Please review and consider the media coverage on why other entities are pulling out. Ask yourselves what the Town of Taos has gotten from its RCLC membership over the past 10 years. No RCLC Board members can cite any measurable benefit Taos County has received since 2011.

Persistent issues with lack of transparency, failure to conduct town halls or other outreach as promised, and the lack of a mechanism for any form of dialogue have been consistently ignored by the Board. In fact, any existing transparency has deteriorated with the failure to update the website and an apparent decision to stop notifying regular attendees and the press by email of upcoming meetings.

Out of 13,000 people employed by Los Alamos National Laboratory, a mere 272 are from Taos County. The RCLC has not shown any ability to increase the number of LANL jobs in our county. Claims that the RCLC is involved in economic development in the region are false. With ~5700 people living below the poverty line and ~ 3200 people  currently unemployed in Taos county, help is obviously needed, but the RCLC has failed since 2011 to affect any change with these issues.

RCLC Board members claim the RCLC operates on a consensus basis, however, LANL, the Department of Energy, and legacy waste contractor N3B are the only entities making presentations at RCLC meetings and there is no mechanism for the public to ask questions or interact with these entities. In addition, Board members do not discuss the presentations among themselves so there is no record of how the so-called consensus is reached. Examples of this include failure to take a position on expansion of plutonium pit production, lack of  discussion on what the RCLC wishes to have accomplished in cleanup, and failure to discuss a mission statement, goals, or specific direction for the organization.

The RCLC has never taken into account resolutions adopted by the Town of Taos, Taos County, City of Santa Fe, and Santa Fe County which support nuclear non-proliferation and oppose expanded plutonium pit production, choosing only to express support for LANL’s overall missions. Where is the consensus in this?
In this time of a global pandemic, Taos County needs a continued creative and focused effort on developing a sustainable, resilient, human-centered economy that values the good of all over the good of the very very few. The survival of our children, their children, and all of life is what hangs in the balance.

Instead of trying to advocate through the very narrow lens of the RCLC, the Town and County can do much better to advocate for the needs of their constituents by working directly with our elected state and federal representatives to form and execute strategies that will truly benefit us all.

The RCLC’s day is done. Please withdraw the Town of Taos from this organization.

Suzie Schwartz
Norteños for Peaceful and Sustainable Futures
El Prado