BY SEAN WILLIAMS
While I was still on the Los Alamos County Council, I would occasionally tell Councilor Dave Reagor what was really going on—the County Council is surprisingly out of the loop—and he’d comment on how the same names kept coming up. One thing you’ll notice, if you regularly read the Los Alamos Daily Post, is that they hardly ever talk to business owners about the substantive issues. No, you almost always get the perspective of the employees of the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation. They own the Research Park, the Chamber of Commerce, MainStreet, and they do a bunch of contract work for the County.
In my experience, the LACDC’s attitude toward small business owners’ problems is, “well, that sucks.” Indeed, Automotive Professionals—the business I own with my husband Jordan, which we moved to Santa Fe at the beginning of the year—left the Chamber after only one year of membership because of these sorts of blasé comments. I talked about their lobbying track record in a previous letter (https://losalamosreporter.com/2022/04/04/reflections-on-council/?fbclid=IwAR2RoPIqbz8ZAV8pJodDRFkivD7DaQrV1tK1PYtkXBIDfctN9Y_08HCTm7k). In any case, they seem to believe that the commercial malaise in Los Alamos is ex nihilo, without cause. And since there’s no cause, there’s no solution, and you all need to just keep spending money on tourism marketing.
Anyway, there’s another little spiral within these spirals. Some years back, I’m told, the LACDC took the position of recruiting to their board of directors anyone they saw as important. One of the important people they recruited is Carol Clark, publisher of the Los Alamos Daily Post.
In May 2021, the Daily Post asked me for a comment for an article called “Local Landlords and LANL Address Property Lease Issues.” In my response, I asked if the Daily Post was planning on disclosing Clark’s membership on the LACDC board. This response was buried in the middle of that rather lengthy article:
“Williams also inquired in his email whether the Post was going to disclose that Publisher Carol A. Clark is a member of the LACDC Board. ‘I have served on the LACDC Board since 2018 and find it to be a fine organization dedicated to economic development,’ Clark said.”
Funnily enough, that article did not include this disclosure at the top or bottom, but in the middle. And this disclosure, to my knowledge, hasn’t appeared before or since.
That brings us to a puff piece that went out last week, “What’s Going On with Vacant Properties?” Once again, who does the Los Alamos Daily Post turn to for a riveting discussion of commercial dynamics? The County’s man, Dan Ungerleider, and the executive director of the LACDC, Lauren McDaniel. Not surprisingly, no disclosure here either.
For his part, Ungerleider has become joined at the hip to the LACDC. Check out the December 9, 2021 meeting of the Parks and Recreation Board if you wanna see what I mean.
It’s unfortunate that Los Alamos has this clique that’s so heavily invested in maintaining a perverse status quo: give public assets to big developers and speculators in the hopes they won’t screw you, and try to attract millennials with families as tourists to a county with so few restaurants—and where the hotel rooms are taken up by lab contractors. It confirms that both Automotive Professionals and Mille (né Fleur de Lys) made the right choice by moving, but I do have some lingering sadness about the whole situation.
As I said when Fleur de Lys announced its departure, c’est la guerre.