Excellent editorial by Robert Trapp! I agree, LANL Coalition is a complete waste of our tax dollars!
Whenever a group of politicians gets together to create some entity with a joint powers agreement, expect the waste of everything from time to money. That’s taxpayer money they waste. So it is with the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities. That’s a fancy name for a group composed of politicians from city of Española, Los Alamos County, Rio Arriba County, Santa Fe County, city of Santa Fe, Taos County, town of Taos and the pueblos of Ohkay Owingeh and Jemez. All these public entities threw a bunch of our money into a hat and hired Andrea Romero Consulting LLC to be the group’s executive director. Following many public questions about the group’s expenditures, and a Los Alamos County audit, Romero found herself without a contract following Monday’s meeting. Her two-year contract, which began March 1, 2016, is for $140,000 annually. Not a bad gig in these parts, and times. The actual 2017 budget shows she’s received $151,628 for “services.” The adopted 2018 budget has her at $152,000. Looking at the deliverable portion of her contract, Romero is doing the job fine. That’s because the group doesn’t really demand too much for our $151,000.
There are 20 items listed under services in Romero’s contract. They range from bureaucrateze, such as effective advocacy to develop message. There are bullet points for secretarial work surrounding the group’s all important monthly meetings. Aside from prepare for and conduct monthly meetings, her big job is making lots of slides, using Los Alamos National Laboratory information, census data and jobs data, all which members could easily Google. The big revenue stream for the group is, you guessed it, Lab money. Lab officials love coming down the hill throwing money at useless organizations in the name of growth and diversity. The Lab funds $100,000 of the group’s $197,000 budget. The city of Española only chips in $3,500.
Los Alamos County contributes $60,000, the other large donors ($10,000) are Rio Arriba County, Santa Fe County and city of Santa Fe. This group knows how to party, on our dime. They travel and eat and drink and watch baseball. Mayor Javier Gonzales got stuck flying first class because of poor planning. The group of lobbyists for the Coalition stayed at the Hilton Mark in Alexandria. To hear people from the Coalition describe it, that was a very effective trip. One member said we didn’t have a voice in Washington before, now we do. He’s got a point there. We have a representative who cares more about what the National Democratic Party wants than Rio Arribans, but we keep re-electing him. But paying someone for this charade of meeting, eating, drinking, flying and really not doing anything of substance is simply wrong. It’s a great idea for the people of the inner circle. It’s a terrible use of taxpayer funds.