The results from Larry Barker’s recent investigation into state spending at the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC) will have taxpayers asking “where was the accountability?” In 2004 state legislators approved the construction of a then first-class television recording facility at the NHCC with all the trimmings: a soundproof studio, control room, editing suites, and even a green room. Once construction of the facility was complete, NHCC executives then proceeded to spend thousands on equipping and outfitting the the studios with all of the tech needed to begin producing video content. Cameras, lenses, hundreds of feet in miscellaneous cables, monitors, lighting, batteries and more. But before it could be put to use state officials shut down the project. Why? According to the report from KRQE News 13, it was because no one was hired to run the equipment. Now, more than 15 years later, the facility has sat unused with it’s expensive equipment getting more outdated by the day with some pieces still in the factory packaging having never been used.
Additionally, the potential TV production wing of the NHCC was not alone in it’s blatantly wasteful spending. There were also renovations done to create a radio studio in 2005. A soundproofed room, and control booth, large power transformers and a radio station antenna were all added to the NHCC to create what could have been a fully functioning radio station that never was to reach the airwaves.
Larry Barker dug into the issues with the Museum’s former Director Alberto Cuessy in a February interview. “I don’t know what the original intent was,” said Cuessy, “I don’t know what we can do with it today.” And while some of the equipment still remains in the unused wing of the NHCC, much of it was discarded in 2015 as “surplus property” – disappearing into the ether at a total loss to taxpayers. Some of the equipment simply vanished also; things like the $3,206 power transformer and the $336 rooftop radio antenna tower purchased in 2008 are gone with no clue as to when or how they disappeared and who authorized the removal. Simply put; no one knows why this project came to be or why it fell apart.
State Senator Pete Campos, who serves on the Legislative Finance Committee, calls it an unfortunate history lesson. “First of all, the money’s gone. Secondly, most of the equipment is gone. Thirdly, the project was never developed. So the way I characterize it today is that… it was a waste of money,” Senator Campos says. “We continue to do this, not only with (this) project, but it happens over and over.”
Senator Campos is absolutely correct, this is nothing more than a waste of taxpayer money, and New Mexicans should be outraged at the wanton wastefulness of our elected leaders and the NHCC administration. What use does the state have for a television and radio station? Why was there no accountability for any of the many parties involved with this project? Why was it allowed to languish for 15 years out of sight? How could this pricey equipment be bought, never used and just lost in some cases? Those questions will probably never be have meaningful answers. From Senator Campos’ tone it seems like this is just business as usual and typical unaccountable New Mexican leadership. To watch the full investigation segment click HERE.
While stories and investigations like the one above have become a staple of New Mexico’s fraught relationship with it’s governance, it doesn’t have to be that way. New Mexico has been the victim of a “same old, same old” mentality for generations now, having been under the control of one party for the majority of the last 92 years, but it can change. Click the link below to learn more and ask yourself: Do you Dare to change New Mexico?