Civic leader explains why he’s had it with T or C City Manager Morris Madrid

by Rick Dumiak | January 28, 2021
3 min read
Rick Dumiak has submitted his resignation as chair of T or C's Planning and Zoning Commission to protest Madrid's defamatory remarks about Dumiak's honesty Source: Dumiak

Editor’s Note: On Jan. 27, Rick Dumiak submitted his written resignation to the city commissioners, effective immediately, as chair of Truth or Consequences Planning and Zoning Commission. At the city commissioner’s meeting that morning, Dumiak asked Manager Madrid to apologize for publicly accusing him of lying about the trash problem at Rotary Park, which Dumiak has been cleaning up almost daily since June. At the previous city commission meeting on Jan. 13, Madrid said of Dumiak’s public complaints about the lack of maintenance at the city-supervised park, “Just because I [meaning Dumiak] say something, doesn’t make it true.”

 At the Jan. 27 commission meeting, Madrid declined to apologize for his defamatory remarks, even though Dumiak had later posted on his Facebook page photographs (reprinted in the Sun) of the trash he continued to find on his walks through the park. Madrid’s inability to admit and apologize for his wrongdoing prompted Dumiak’s resignation and submission to the Sun of the following explanation for his protest.

I submitted my resignation from the P&Z with regret. I wanted to serve our community and felt that, as a former general contractor and facilities director who regularly dealt with federal and agencies, as well as municipalities, my experience would be helpful. Even though several times my suggestions for P&Z agenda items were dismissed as not relevant, I continued to serve.

But I cannot and will not work with a city official who has falsely accused me of lying. When you have a city manager who shows so little concern for the integrity of his words and actions, what’s the point?

Mr. Madrid’s direct attack on my honesty has caused me considerable harm and public humiliation. His failure to apologize or even respond was the last straw, as it showed a clear lack of respect for me, as well as a lack of decency and professionalism.

I find it ironic that Mr. Madrid seems to forget the meaning and name of our town, Truth or Consequences. If one does not tell the truth, there needs to be consequences. It is my hope that the city commission will fully realize the seriousness of the city manager’s actions and act accordingly.

I was heartened that we at least have a city commissioner that stands up to our city manager’s lies and understands the city manager can’t write his own laws or ordinances. Thankfully, Commissioner Frances Luna called out Mr. Madrid’s desire to make his own rules up regarding smart-meter appeals at yesterday’s commission meeting. Thanks to her leadership, we now have an opt-out from having to take a smart meter.

But we need to look at the $50 proposed monthly manual meter-reading fee. In my opinion that is way too much to charge for a simple meter reading that could be easily and inexpensively obtained in a number of alternative ways.

Asking senior citizens to pay more to protect their health is very unfair. The city manager seems to think he is a medical expert, as he said yesterday the meters are safe. Well, I don’t trust anything that comes out of the city manager’s mouth. It was clear to see during yesterday’s commission meeting that Mr. Madrid has his own agenda and does not care about the residents. He is more concerned with his vision for a city center complex that we cannot afford or need.

How much did Wilson & Company charge the city for the city manager’s unapproved concept drawings for his new civic center on Fourth Street? Why did the city manager ignore due process and shut off Ron Fenn’s electricity during the middle of his appeal? Why did the city manager accuse me of lying to the city commission? Why does the city manager not respond to calls or emails? Why is Mr. Madrid still our city manager?

Rick Dumiak
Charles Street, Truth or Consequences

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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.

2 thoughts on “Civic leader explains why he’s had it with T or C City Manager Morris Madrid”

  1. Mr. Dumiak’s resignation is a sad, and totally avoidable, loss to Truth or Consequences. Mr. Madrid easily could have accompanied Mr. Dumiak to Rotary Park and seen for himself that there is an ongoing trash problem, as well as other problems, which tarnish this jewel in the city’s park system. Just as one example of inexplicable negligence, it has been 11 years since the city commission approved the Healing Waters Trail Plan, which includes an exciting “Wetlands Element” restoration design for Rotary Park. With minimal expense, and only the need to reaffirm an already-approved plan, the city can create an impressive tourism destination for birdwatching and nature studies. With planning commissioners like Mr. Dumiak who already appreciate the park, that reaffirmation process would have been off to a good start. What a loss!

  2. Rick, thank you for putting yourself forward to serve the community. I regret that we have lost a representative who takes the situations of T or C citizens to heart and seeks to redress problems. Please do keep commenting to the city commission and to Sun articles. We need the balance provided by your point of view and your experience here.

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