T or C electrical transformer fixed, still needs to be replaced

by Kathleen Sloan | June 17, 2021
2 min read
The emergency repair was made to the so-called "northern" transformer pictured here to the immediate right and rear of the pickup at the electrical department's Riverside Drive substation. Photograph by Ron Fenn

The City of Truth or Consequences posted on its website and Facebook page that one of its two aging electrical transformers has been repaired as of June 15.

The city had been operating on one transformer for an unstated period of time. As temperatures increased, burdening the sole operating transformer and increasing the likelihood it, too, would go down, the city made the public aware of the issue. Over the last two weeks the city used its website, Facebook page and utility bills to request the public use as little electricity as possible, especially between the hours of 12 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The June 15 announcement stated: “At this time all necessary repairs to the Substation Transformer have been completed and it is now up and running. You may now return to your normal electric usage.”

The repair, which entailed the purchase of a new tap charger and its installation and testing, cost $32,938.73, City Manager Bruce Swingle reported in a June 16 email response to the Sun’s request for information.

The city still needs to replace the transformer, which is about 60 years old, as is the second transformer. The expected life of a transformer is about 50 years, Electric Department Director Bo Easley told the city commission at a budget hearing in early May.  

“We are conducting a procurement on a transformer currently,” Swingle stated in his email to the Sun. “The cost is projected to be between $1M and $1.5M for the transformer.”

In order to help pay for a new transformer, the city commission cut $1.8 million from the 2021-2022 budget during the May 5 budget hearing.

At that hearing, Easley said the city was waiting on a response to a grant application seeking funds to purchase the transformer. Stating his opinion that the purchase couldn’t wait, Swingle advised the city commissioners of the need to cut the budget in order to afford the purchase as soon as possible.

At its June 9 meeting, the commission approved a budget adjustment allowing the city to cash in the electric department’s investment fund, which totaled more than $550,000. It was not stated the cash will go to purchasing the transformer, but the timing of the adjustment is suggestive.

Kathleen Sloan is the Sun’s founder and chief reporter. She can be reached at kathleen.sloan@gmail.com or 575-297-4146.
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Understanding New Mexico's proposed new social studies standards for K-12 students

“The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.”
—National Council for the Social Studies 

Reader Michael L. Hayes of Las Cruces commented: What impresses me is that both the proposed standards and some of the criticisms of them are equally grotesque. I make this bold statement on the basis of my experience as a peripatetic high school and college English teacher for 45 years in many states with many students differing in race, religion, gender and socioeconomic background, and as a civic activist (PTA) in public education (My career, however, was as an independent consultant mainly in defense, energy and the environment.)

The proposed social studies standards are conceptually and instructionally flawed. For starters, a “performance standard” is not a standard at all; it is a task. Asking someone to explain something is not unlike asking someone to water the lawn. Nothing measures the performance, but without a measure, there is no standard. The teacher’s subjective judgment will be all that matters, and almost anything will count as satisfying a “performance standard,” even just trying. Students will be left to wonder “what is on the teacher’s mind?” or “have I sucked up enough.”

Four other quick criticisms of the performance standards. One, they are nearly unintelligible because they are written in jargon. PED’s use of jargon in a document intended for the public is worrisome. Bureaucrats often use jargon to confuse or conceal something uninformed, wrong or unworthy. As a result, most parents, some school board members and more than a few teachers do not understand them.

Two, the performance standards are so vague that they fail to define the education which teachers are supposed to teach, students are supposed to learn, and parents are supposed to understand. PED does not define words like “explain” or “describe” so that teachers can apply “standards” consistently and fairly. The standards do not indicate what teachers are supposed to know in order to teach or specify what students are supposed to learn. Supervisors cannot know whether teachers are teaching social studies well or poorly. The standards are so vague that the public, especially parents or guardians, cannot know the content of public education.

Three, many performance standards are simply unrealistic, especially at grade level. Under “Ethnic, Cultural and Identity Performance Standards”; then under “Diversity and Identity”; then under “Kindergarten,” one such standard is: “Identify how their family does things both the same as and different from how other people do things.” Do six-year-olds know how other people do things? Do they know whether these things are relevant to diversity and identity? Or another standard: “Describe their family history, culture, and past to current contributions of people in their main identity groups.” (A proficient writer would have hyphenated the compound adjective to avoid confusing the reader.) Do six-year-olds know so much about these things in relation to their “identity group”? Since teachers obviously do not teach them about these other people and have not taught them about these groups, why are these and similar items in the curriculum; or do teachers assign them to go home and collect this information?

Point four follows from “three”; some information relevant to some performance measures requires a disclosure of personal or family matters. The younger the students, the easier it is for teachers to invade their privacy and not only their privacy, but also the privacy of their parents or guardians, or neighbors, who may never be aware of these disclosures or not become aware of them until afterward. PED has no right to design a curriculum which requires teachers to ask students for information about themselves, parents or guardians, or neighbors, or puts teachers on the spot if the disclosures reveal criminal conduct. (Bill says Jeff’s father plays games in bed with his daughter. Lila says Angelo’s mother gives herself shots in the arm.) Since teacher-student communications have no legal protection to ensure privacy, those disclosures may become public accidentally or deliberately. The effect of these proposal standards is to turn New Mexico schools and teachers into investigative agents of the state and students into little informants or spies.

This PED proposal for social studies standards is a travesty of education despite its appeals to purportedly enlightened principles. It constitutes a clear and present danger to individual liberty and civil liberties. It should be repudiated; its development, investigated; its PED perpetrators, dismissed. No state curriculum should encourage or require the disclosure of private personal information.

I am equally outraged by the comments of some of T or C’s school board members: Christine LaFont and Julianne Stroup, two white Christian women, who belong to one of the larger minorities in America and assume white and Christian privileges. In different terms but for essentially the same reason, both oppose an education which includes lessons about historical events and trends, and social movements and developments, of other minorities. They object to the proposal for the new social studies standards because of its emphasis on individual and group identities not white or Christian. I am not going to reply with specific objections; they are too numerous and too pointed.

Ms. LaFont urges: “It’s better to address what’s similar with all Americans. It’s not good to differentiate.” Ms. Stroup adds: “Our country is not a racist country. We have to teach to respect each other. We have civil rights laws that protect everyone from discrimination. We need to teach civics, love and respect. We need to teach how to be color blind.”

Their desires for unity and homogeneity, and for mutual respect, are a contradiction and an impossibility. Aside from a shared citizenship, which implies acceptance of the Constitution, the rule of law and equality under the law, little else defines Americans. We are additionally defined by our race, religion, national origin, etc. So mutual respect requires individuals to respect others different from themselves. Disrespect desires blacks, Jews or Palestinians to assimilate or to suppress or conceal racial, religious or national origin aspects of their identity. The only people who want erasure of nonwhite, non-Christian, non-American origin aspects of identity are bigots. Ms. LaFont and Ms. Stroud want standards which, by stressing similarities and eliding differences, desire the erasure of such aspects. What they want will result in a social studies curriculum that enables white, Christian, native-born children to grow up to be bigots and all others to be their victims. This would be the academic equivalent of ethnic cleansing.


This postmortem of a case involving a 75-year-old women who went missing from her home in Hillsboro last September sheds light on the bounds of law enforcement’s capacity to respond, especially in large rural jurisdictions such as Sierra County, and underscores the critical role the public, as well as concerned family and friends, can play in assisting a missing person’s search.

Reader Jane Debrott of Hillsboro commented: Thank you for your article on the tragic loss of Betsey. I am a resident of Hillsboro, a friend of Rick and Betsey, and a member of H.E.L.P. The thing that most distresses me now, is the emphasis on Rick’s mis-naming of the color of their car. I fear that this fact will cause Rick to feel that if he had only gotten the facts right, Betsey may have been rescued before it was too late. The incident was a series of unavoidable events, out of everyone’s control, and we will never know what place the correct color of her car may have had in the outcome. It breaks my heart to think that Rick has had one more thing added to his “what ifs” concerning this incident.

Diana Tittle responded: Dear Jane, the Sun undertook this investigation at the request of a Hillsboro resident concerned about the town’s inability to mount a prompt, coordinated response to the disappearance of a neighbor. From the beginning, I shared your concern about how our findings might affect Betsy’s family and friends. After I completed my research and began writing, I weighed each detail I eventually chose to include against my desire to cause no pain and the public’s right to know about the strengths and limitations of law enforcement’s response and the public’s need to know about how to be of meaningful assistance.

There was information I withheld about the state police investigation and the recovery. But I decided to include the issue of the car’s color because the individuals who spotted Betsy’s car emphasized how its color had been key to their identification of it as the vehicle described in Betsy’s Silver Alert. Because the misinformation was corrected within a couple of hours, I also included in this story the following editorial comment meant to put the error in perspective: “The fact that law enforcement throughout the state was on the lookout in the crucial early hours after Betsy’s disappearance for an elderly woman driving a “light blue” instead of a “silver” Accord would, in retrospect, likely not have changed the outcome of the search” [emphasis added].

I would also point to the story’s overarching conclusion about the inadvisability of assigning blame for what happened: “In this case, a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances, many of them beyond human control, hindered the search that it would fall to Hamilton’s department to lead.”

It is my hope that any pain caused by my reporting will eventually be outweighed by its contribution to a better community understanding of what it will take in the future to mount a successful missing person’s search in rural Sierra County.


Third day on the job, Swingle brings transparency and reality to T or C’s budgeting process
by Kathleen Sloan | May 10, 2021

In addition to contending with a $1.6 million deficit in the fiscal year 2021-2022 draft budget, new city manager Bruce Swingle informed the city commissioners...

T or C will hold public hearings on grant/loan applications for electrical and other equipment, with implications for utility fees
by Kathleen Sloan | March 5, 2021

Routine equipment purchases are normally paid for out of budgeted departmental expenses, not debt. But years of tapping utilities fee revenues for general operations have...

1 thought on “T or C electrical transformer fixed, still needs to be replaced”

  1. Living in Truth or Consequences, with even a minimum of attention paid to its government, is like watching a slow-motion train wreck. Why are our elected officials not more on top of things, like the fact that the basic equipment of our electrical network is ten years past its “best by date”?! As any attentive householder knows and, hopefully, prepares for, the furnace and air conditioner have limited lifespans—money is budgeted for those things.

    One would think that the fact that our electrical grid might go down any time now, that a heavy rainfall will paralyze downtown businesses every time, that if you allow semis to drive on residential roads like Silver Street, they’re gonna break the plumbing under the road and you’ll be chasing leaks forever. This is ridiculous. Our town needs to be paid attention and attended to in advance of disasters!

    When I was elected to the town council in Carrizozo, I spent a full day with every department head AND with the chief of police, plus we were required to attend a training by the Municipal League to get familiar with things like the open meetings act, budgets, Roberts rules, etc. Our commissioners seem to be clueless as to what their jobs are and what their employees are doing and are constantly blind-sided and surprised by predictable disasters. What is required of our folks? Anything besides showing up at a twice-a-month meeting?

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