Grants mayor facing two legal battles after defying state emergency order

Grants Mayor Martin “Modey” Hicks’ refusal to close municipal departments, like the city-run golf course, led to him being named in two different legal filings. One case is a lawsuit filed by the former city manager and the other a petition from the state’s attorney general asking the state Supreme Court to order Hicks to […]

Grants mayor facing two legal battles after defying state emergency order

Grants Mayor Martin “Modey” Hicks’ refusal to close municipal departments, like the city-run golf course, led to him being named in two different legal filings. One case is a lawsuit filed by the former city manager and the other a petition from the state’s attorney general asking the state Supreme Court to order Hicks to comply with a state emergency order. 

Last week, Hicks publicly announced that he would defy the state’s Department of Health order limiting the scope of what services and business can be open during the COVID-19 pandemic. True to his word, Hicks allowed businesses to open and reportedly told city employees to report to work, in-person. 

On Wednesday, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas filed a writ of mandamus, or a petition asking the high court to intervene on the basis that Hicks is not fulfilling his duty as mayor. 

Balderas argued in his petition that Hicks “is knowingly and intentionally violating the State’s public health emergency orders.” 

“He is directing city employees to violate these orders, and fired the city manager who refused to do so,” the petition read. “He is instructing and encouraging city businesses to reopen in violation of the orders, and proclaiming his constitutional authority to do so. Finally, he has invited a legal resolution of his dispute with the State.”

On Thursday, the day after Balderas’ petition, recently fired city manager Laura Jaramillo filed a whistleblower lawsuit against both the city and Hicks. 

In her suit, Jaramillo alleged that Hicks fired her after she refused to go against the state public health emergency order, even after state police issued a citation and warning against opening the course. 

“Upon information and belief, Hicks just wanted to open the golf course as a political stunt and to thumb his nose at the Governor,” the lawsuit alleges.

Hicks told the Associated Press it was “a lie” that he fired Jaramillo over her refusal to violate a state order, but did not expand on the issue. 

According to court records, Hicks had not been served with the lawsuit as of Thursday. He told NM Political Report that he had not seen Jaramillo’s lawsuit, but maintained that her allegation that she was fired over refusing to open the golf course was a “total lie.”

He said Balderas’ petition was also riddled with inaccuracies.

“There are a lot of things in there that ain’t true either,” Hicks said in a phone interview on Thursday. “I never told my cops to stop the state police. Never ever said that.”

Cibola County, which encompasses Grants, is arguably on the lower end of the spectrum of positive COVID-19 cases. But adjacent to Cibola County is McKinley County where the number of positive cases recently surpassed that of Bernalillo County, the most populous county in the state.

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Both Republicans and Democrats skeptical of guv’s proposals for special session

Both Republicans and Democrats skeptical of guv’s proposals for special session

A representative from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office outlined on Thursday the bills the governor’s office will back during the upcoming special session, but…
Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

By Justin Horwath, New Mexico In Dept Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto is running for a fourth term despite the state Democratic Party’s decision to censure…
AG announces legislative priorities for upcoming special session

AG announces legislative priorities for upcoming special session

Attorney General Raúl Torrez announced on Thursday his legislative priorities for July’s special legislative session, including the creation of a crime victim’s unit to…
SCOTUS rejects proposed resolution to Rio Grande water dispute

SCOTUS rejects proposed resolution to Rio Grande water dispute

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a proposed settlement that would have ended the more-than decade-long dispute between Texas and New…
FWS says two Rio Grande fish do not warrant listing under Endangered Species Act

FWS says two Rio Grande fish do not warrant listing under Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that two fish species found in New Mexico do not meet the criteria for listing them as…
Want to know what Albuquerque’s climate might be like in 2080? Head to Roswell

Want to know what Albuquerque’s climate might be like in 2080? Head to Roswell

Thanks to climate change, the Albuquerque of the future may feel a bit more like present-day Roswell. That’s according to a new web app…
Stansbury outlines funding secured for early childhood and youth services programs

Stansbury outlines funding secured for early childhood and youth services programs

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury secured $8.3 million for childhood development and youth services in the 1st congressional district through federal community project funding. Stansbury,…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Some mental health issues on the rise in New Mexico

Some mental health issues on the rise in New Mexico

A recent report by KFF, a foundation that provides health policy analysis, found mental health issues on the rise and disparities in mental health…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Amy Maxmen, KFF Health News Four years after hospitals in New York City overflowed with covid-19 patients, emergency physician Sonya Stokes remains shaken by…
Abortion medication access remains after Supreme Court ruling

Abortion medication access remains after Supreme Court ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Texas-based Christian group trying to restrict access to abortion medication on Thursday. The case, FDA v. the…
How abortion care has changed since Dobbs 

How abortion care has changed since Dobbs 

In the month of March 2024 alone, 1,650 clinician-provided abortions took place in New Mexico, according to the reproductive research organization, the Guttmacher Institute.…
Many Democrats endorsed by reproductive rights group won primaries

Many Democrats endorsed by reproductive rights group won primaries

With nearly 53 percent of the precincts reporting as of 11 p.m. Tuesday, most of the legislative candidates endorsed by Planned Parenthood Votes New…
Some mental health issues on the rise in New Mexico

Some mental health issues on the rise in New Mexico

A recent report by KFF, a foundation that provides health policy analysis, found mental health issues on the rise and disparities in mental health…
New Mexico food banks say food insecurity is on the rise

New Mexico food banks say food insecurity is on the rise

Food insecurity is on the rise as state benefits have decreased and the future of federal benefits have an uncertain future.  Sonya Warwick, director…
Abortion medication access remains after Supreme Court ruling

Abortion medication access remains after Supreme Court ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Texas-based Christian group trying to restrict access to abortion medication on Thursday. The case, FDA v. the…
Republican Herrell signs onto what critics call anti-transgender message

Republican Herrell signs onto what critics call anti-transgender message

Republican candidate Yvette Herrell, who is running against Democrat Rep. Gabe Vasquez for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District seat, committed herself to a message…
Post-primary, Biden leads Trump in NM

Post-primary, Biden leads Trump in NM

President Joe Biden leads former president Donald Trump in the race for New Mexico’s five electoral seats, according to a poll commissioned by NM…
Democrats announce spending on CD2 race

Democrats announce spending on CD2 race

The Democratic National Committee announced on Monday that it will spend $70,000 for organizing staff to aid U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez, the Democrat trying…
Some mental health issues on the rise in New Mexico

Some mental health issues on the rise in New Mexico

A recent report by KFF, a foundation that provides health policy analysis, found mental health issues on the rise and disparities in mental health…
SCOTUS rejects proposed resolution to Rio Grande water dispute

SCOTUS rejects proposed resolution to Rio Grande water dispute

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a proposed settlement that would have ended the more-than decade-long dispute between Texas and New…
FWS says two Rio Grande fish do not warrant listing under Endangered Species Act

FWS says two Rio Grande fish do not warrant listing under Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that two fish species found in New Mexico do not meet the criteria for listing them as…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report