Monday, October 26, 2009


I've spent a fair amount of time in Taos, New Mexico, in recent years, so I have to draw your attention to this idiot:

Hotel owner tells Hispanic workers to change names

TAOS, N.M. (AP) - Larry Whitten marched into this northern New Mexico town in late July on a mission: resurrect a failing hotel.

The tough-talking former Marine immediately laid down some new rules. Among them, he forbade the Hispanic workers at the run-down, Southwestern adobe-style hotel from speaking Spanish in his presence (he thought they'd be talking about him), and ordered some to Anglicize their names.

No more Martin (Mahr-TEEN). It was plain-old Martin. No more Marcos. Now it would be Mark.

... The 63-year-old Texan, however, wasn't prepared for what followed.

His rules and his firing of several Hispanic employees angered his employees and many in this liberal enclave....

Former workers, their relatives and some town residents picketed across the street from the hotel....

The hotel sits along narrow, two-lane Paseo del Pueblo....

Where to begin? Well, I'm in New York, where if you think everyone speaking in a foreign language must be talking about you, you belong in Bellevue. You're paranoid if you think that, Larry. Everything isn't about you.

And the names? People's names are very important to them. Yes, I realize that entertainers have traditionally de-ethnicized their names. I realize that some call-center employees in India take on American-sounding names and accents. But those are choices -- trade-offs made to get a gig. Whitten's employees were people just going along, working as they always had, in a state that was Hispanic before it was American (and is still 44% Hispanic), on a street called Paseo del Pueblo, fer crissake -- and Whitten came along and decided to change their names by fiat. Sorry, not acceptable.

But this guy has a chip on his shoulder -- he saunters into a liberal, multi-culti town from Abilene, Texas, and the minute he meets some resistance he not only fires Hispanic workers but insults other locals:

The messages and comments he made in interviews with local media, including referring to townsfolk as "mountain people" and "potheads who escaped society," further enflamed tensions.

About what you'd expect from this guy, really. He also claimed a few months ago that he had an employee problem in one of his establishments back in Texas -- and, when the resolution of the problem wasn't working out the way he wanted, he grumbled about it in a letter to the Abilene Reprter News:

We had an employee that was having things missing out of the rooms that she would clean, so we set her up. We set her up by putting cash in the Bible. The employee cleaned the room, and the money was missing. No one else entered the room. She denied taking the money. We terminated her for the missing money. The Texas Employment Commission sided with the employee and said this was not job-related. Your government at work.

Larry Whitten

In response to this letter, readers reasonably posted the objection that an employee finding money in a hotel-room Bible might assume it was a tip from a previous guest, and also questioned whether he'd actually proved theft in the absence of videotape. This didn't sit well with Larry, so when the Texas Employee Commission reversed itself, he took the liberty to write a follow-up letter:

On appeal to the Texas Employment Commission concerning the thief. The Employment Commission reversed its decision and we won. Thank you to everyone for their support. And it was nice to hear from the Socialist Communist Party members.

Larry Whitten

Charming, Larry. And if your Texas 'tude got you in trouble in Taos, well, my heart bleeds.

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