Note: The complete transcript for this meeting is not yet available. In the interim, specific statements made at this meeting will be posted and answered. Excerpts from the transcript are in normal type - comments in response by Neil & Cindy Girrard are in blue.
The context of Smith’s comments about burning our house down, is that at the end of the January 2018 LHPB meeting (in what until May 2018 used to be an open discussion time – there is no record we know of as to how or why this was changed, it was just suddenly a new practice), a Zone B resident, Winston Moore (whose wife, Ginger, resigned from the board in 2015 because she could not implement changes she desired to see made) is asking the board some questions that he wanted answered before he signed onto the board. Several days later, Moore stopped by our house and half-heartedly apologized for “using our name” at the board meeting. He neglected to inform us that Smith had said anything about us.
On Feb. 14 Jim Spiri, reporter for the Lincoln County Leader, stopped by our house and asked if we had anything to say in response to Smith’s January comments. This was the first we’d heard that anything inappropriate had been said by Smith at the January meeting so we checked with a couple of other people (which took us several weeks to run into them) to confirm what had been said. Neither Moore nor Spiri would or could say exactly what Smith had said. It would not be until the May meeting (Smith was absent in April), that Neil Girrard, by confronting Smith in person, would hear what Smith was saying in his role as chairman of the historical board. It is patently obvious to us why none of the real evidence was presented at the July LHPB meeting!
Smith: Well, for many years he claimed poor and then he claimed disabled for a number of other years which, handicapped, I mean, if he didn’t have the money, then you couldn’t make him do it. I don’t know that there’s that much income still. They were homeschooling all their children. Samantha could probably add to that. I know that, probably about seven years ago, the state police accompanied child welfare, did a home visit. Nobody went to jail on that deal. I wanted it burned down myself but it still exists as is.
Lies. Let’s break them out one at a time.
- “he…” Uh, what happened to Mrs. Girrard? Is this a sexist exclusion? Mrs. Girrard is as much disgusted and repulsed by the hypocrisy and insanity of the historical board as is Mr. Girrard. But it’s always easier to exclude a lone, “crazed rebel” than it is to deal with an honest, struggling couple and family who are simply trying to overcome all the adversity life has thrown at them (of which the historical board has been perhaps the most invasive, insane adversity we have had to overcome). Whatever the real reason for singling out Mr. Girrard here, it is the truth that this involves a lot more than one person. It involves our whole family and we are united in protesting against Smith’s implied threats and against the ongoing improprieties of the historical ordinance and board.
- “he claimed…” For the record, we have never claimed anything to the board. We have not appeared before the board since 2007 when Cille Dickinson was chairperson and, since the revised ordinance removed any requirement that residents could be forced to appear before the board, we are now most reluctant to appear before the abusive and oppressive board who has no inclination toward protecting our legal, especially American rights.
The board has never asked us for any reason why our property is not completed. The board has always been content to rely on the same trash and gossip Smith is spewing forth here. We do have medical, financial, physical and personal reasons for why our house is incomplete. But neither the board nor the county has been interested in hearing those – ever. But because Smith has now escalated this matter beyond all reasonableness, now we will not divulge the details of those reasons outside of a court of law.
The board does nothing to help anyone and only oppresses and harasses – in spite of Becky Borowski’s completely unfounded July comments that “We have spent a great deal of time in the community building good will” and James Sanchez’ fictional spin that “the board is here to help the community come into compliance.” (LHPB July 2018 meeting) These statements can only be called “true” when one recognizes that their notion of “help” means actual assistance (at the meetings, at least) only when “community” means those who are at least sympathetic to Lincoln’s purported “historicity.” And the idea that the board produces any kind of good will would be hotly contested outside of their limited view of “community.”
Neither Borowski nor Smith (except for his ridiculous, anonymous, clandestine 2015 Christmas visit – this episode is dealt with here) has ever been to our house, has ever invited us to meet with them, has ever sent us a letter, has ever done anything toward us except to drive by our house slowly gawking, looking for violations of the historical ordinance that they can report to the county (who doesn’t seem to be listening or interested). Sanchez visited us once during our second conflict with the board over a shed (sheds and their appearances are deemed more valuable in the historical district than one’s inalienable rights!) in 2007 trying to preach to us his ideas of neutrality between the community and the board. Only one other board member, Tom Mann, has ever been to our house and that was only once or twice in what is now almost 20 years! This is hardly the board “spending a lot of time to build good will” where we are concerned!
Smith spouts his crap as if our claims were not based in reality, as if we were making false claims. This is a false accusation. It is our experience that people who accuse us of lying are those who, in similar situations, would themselves lie. But, of course, Smith doesn’t come right out and accuse us of lying but relies on inuendo and implication to accomplish that.
- “he claimed poor and then he claimed disabled for a number of other years” News flash: It is not illegal or immoral or criminal or sinful to be poor. In fact, some who have taken vows of poverty, like Mother Teresa and Francis of Assisi to name but two, are considered by many to be heroes and role models. It is only illegal when immoral people gain control of the law-making process, as has been done in Lincoln’s historical ordinance, and cleverly make poverty illegal. (For a further treatment of this, go here.)
Now, it is clearly against federal law to discriminate against someone who is disabled where housing is concerned. Smith must therefore paint Neil Girrard as a liar who falsely claims to be disabled. Truth is, however, Neil did get permanently injured while working on our property and he is unable to do all that previously he could. So, Smith, as a strong bully, wants to burn down the house of a poor cripple all while he wants everyone else to believe that he’s a good man who should be the chairman of the historical board.
The facts are obvious that he’s gone over some edge and he is taking himself and his role and that of the board far too seriously – an insanity shared by previous board chairman Reginald Richey who irrationally assured us when we first moved here in 1999 that the Lincoln historical district was just as important as those found in places like Gettysburg and Yorktown, the turning points of the Civil and Revolutionary Wars. Sorry, Reg, the Lincoln County war is nothing of that kind of historical significance to anyone but the Lincoln historicals. The rest of us live in reality.
As homeschooling parents, we have discovered that if one reads a world history book, there is no mention of Lincoln County whatsoever. If one reads a U.S. history book, when the western period is discussed, you might find Billy the Kid mentioned in a list with Jesse James, Wyatt Earp and perhaps Bat Masterson but that is about it. If one reads a New Mexico history book, one might find a paragraph on the Lincoln County war with perhaps a quarter of a page devoted to Billy the Kid’s picture. There is a bit of actual historicity in Zone A (if one could separate out the legend which “the Pageant” refuses to do!) but it is overblown and is not sufficient reason to enslave a 10-square mile area as a secondary, “supportive” zone.
- “They were homeschooling all their children. Samantha could probably add to that.” Uh, why would Samantha Mendez, county code enforcement officer, probably be able to add to the fact that we are homeschooling our children or add anything else about our private home life? Prior to this conflict, we’d never spoken to her ever. We’d never met her period. Mendez started with the county in 2012, three years after our 2009 issues with the county were resolved! Whatever she might have been able to add to the conversation (which she did not do so at this January meeting) would have been as much gossip and slander as what Smith is spewing forth here. When Mendez was asked about this, she had no idea why Smith would say this. Smith is trying to paint a picture here – a picture of false colors and misleading information.
- “They were homeschooling all their children… I know that, probably about seven years ago, the state police accompanied child welfare, did a home visit. Nobody went to jail on that deal.” It would be interesting to know the source of Smith’s “knowledge.” “Nobody went to jail on that deal” because no laws were being broken and no harm is or was ever being done to our children. In fact, the state police and child services almost fell over themselves apologizing for intruding into our lives on such an unfounded accusation for which they found nothing like what they were told by some cowardly anonymous source. In fact, a couple of true neighbors spoke so well in our defense that we were humbled. In addition, Phoebe Taylor, lifelong resident of Zone A, reportedly calls our kids “the best in the county.” Others likewise speak highly of our children.
Smith only “knows” what he wants to believe of us from what he hears in the Lincoln gossip and slander mill and what he can see from the road as he drives by stewing in his own fantasy of irritation and hatred. He simply cannot fathom that we might see as vastly more important the education and upbringing of our children than we might care about the 2 second view a tourist has of our property that is almost five miles outside of what most tourists believe to be the historical district. And now Smith has made his own personal, ill-informed judgment of us into what he calls “fact in his brain.” (July 2018 LHPB meeting) Pathetic. Smith is suffering from some serious departures from healthy values and from valid reality and the county is apparently approving of his sickness. This will bear bad fruit.
- “I wanted it burned down myself but it still exists as is.” Smith wants our house burned down. Why? Because it doesn’t match up to his lifeless, oversized mansion that tries to compete with the Governors Palace in Santa Fe? Because it is unlike his completely inappropriate Pennsylvania-Dutch barn that stands in contrast to all of the historical ordinance’s architectural standards?
What is really beginning to show here is Smith’s irrational vigilante-ism that he has been nursing for at least seven years! – how far he will be allowed to carry it out and how high the price tag will be for our family only time will tell.
Samantha Mendez rightly pointed out at the July 2018 LHPB meeting that the county asked us to clean up the property in 2009 and that even the statute of limitations has now passed on that one. We received the 2009 notice to clean up shortly after Neil received his injury – “thanks” county for adding insult to injury! But, at that time, we just asked a friend to come over and in less than one hour he had straightened up the place sufficiently to satisfy the county.
Obviously, Smith is frustrated but does he have any legitimate reason to be frustrated with us. No. He does not. The county has not had any issue with us. But even if there were issues, Smith and the historical board has done nothing in the proper channels to initiate any kind of enforcement of any ordinance where we are concerned – there is not even any recorded inquiry at the county that we’re aware of! So if Smith is frustrated, it is his own and the board’s fault!
Also, the board has other alternatives other than seeking county code enforcement. Smith and the historical elites have had plenty of time and money on their hands, especially the people who traveled thousands of miles for the July meeting! The money for helping with compliance doesn’t even have to come out of their own pockets – they could hold fundraisers or seek grants for anyone who is experiencing real financial difficulties. There are any number of beneficial things they might have done if they had been so inclined (which they are not so inclined as their complete silence toward us over almost 20 years clearly evidences). At the very least, Smith and the board could have asked us for facts about where we are at in our construction process instead of perpetuating the gossip and false accusations he spewed forth in January 2018.
So, even though the county has not expressed any desire or intent to ask us to do anything, for some reason Smith is inwardly craving that our house burn down. Why? What is our house and life to Smith? This looks like a personal vendetta more than anything else. Why are Smith’s personal judgments superior to that of the county code enforcement process? It’s obvious to us that he’s been in this position too long and simply needs to be removed. Period.
It is not surprising to us that these quotes were not presented at the July 2018 LHPB meeting. Some call this suppressing evidence and anyone willing to do this to keep Smith in office should not hold any public office themselves and they should be required to resign too!