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Grants Mayor Martin ‘Modey’ Hicks speaks to a news outlet on the phone Monday, April 27, outside Loffler’s Guns Etc. The store was one of at least four in the town that opened that day in defiance of the governor’s public health orders but with the mayor’s support.

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Thursday ordered Grants Mayor Martin “Modey” Hicks to comply with the state’s emergency public health orders after Attorney General Hector Balderas asked the high court to intervene.

The order comes just a day after Balderas asked the court to compel the mayor to obey the state’s pandemic-related restrictions on business operations after he directed city employees to return to work and encouraged business owners to flout the governor’s public health orders by reopening this week.

Balderas’ office filed the request Wednesday, arguing Hicks’ actions “endanger public health and require immediate actions by the court.”

In a written statement Thursday Balderas said, “Public officials must follow the law and employees should never be fired because they choose to follow laws protecting their health and safety during this public health emergency, particularly when they are near a region with one of the highest infection rates in the state.”

Without intervention from the state’s high court, “death and serious illness are likely to increase in Grants” and surrounding Cibola, McKinley and Bernalillo counties, as well as the Acoma

and Laguna pueblos, the court filing said.

Employees and businesses in the city are unsure of whether to follow public health orders from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration limiting gatherings and shutting down nonessential businesses, or whether they should listen to Hicks, the filing said, adding state law supersedes any directive from a local mayor.

Hicks declined to talk about the situation Thursday, saying, “I really can’t talk right now, I’m waiting for an attorney to call me back to fight Hector Balderas, so you have a great day, OK.”



Lujan Grisham has issued a series of public health orders since mid-March that limit gatherings to five people and require all businesses not deemed essential to public welfare to shut down to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The orders also require big-box stores and groceries that remain open to limit customer capacity and allow restaurants to operate takeout service only.

Hicks, a Democrat, has opposed the restrictions and announced last week he would begin reopening businesses Monday in his Western New Mexico city of 9,000 people.

In an interview last week, Hicks said, “The governor treats us like we’re stupid. We’re not stupid. We have common sense. We have responsibility. If Walmart, Walgreens and Smith’s can be open with social distancing, then so can everybody else.”

He challenged the governor to try to stop him from reopening the city. “If she wants to come and write me a ticket, come on down,” Hicks said, adding he would sue her in federal court if he were cited.

A few businesses opened Monday in Grants. A pawn shop owner said New Mexico State Police stopped by after she had closed and left a citation on her door.

Hicks fired Grants City Manager Laura Merrick Jaramillo after she told him that reopening the city-owned golf course this week could put staff at risk during the ongoing pandemic, the Associated Press reported. Hicks told the AP that firing Jaramillo was unrelated to their dispute.

The argument was cited in the attorney general’s filing as evidence that Grants city employees are now confronted with deciding between following state law and risking termination, or following Hicks’ “illegal orders” to keep their jobs.

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(41) comments

Randy DeVinney

Balderas expresses medical opinion about the likely spread of disease. I didn't realize that he is also a epidemiologist. Might come in handy for a lawyer that refers to a public health order as a law.

Jim Klukkert

Public Health Orders as issued by Governors in times of crisis, are lawful under the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution and have been affirmed many times in Case Law, and are ingrained in NM state law.

Your snide comments indicate a complete lack of understanding of law.

An informed citizenry is absolutely necessary for a working democracy.

Of course you remember all that from your readings of Alexis de Tocqueville ¿que no?

Perhaps you will please not vote this next time around. Thanks!

Barry Rabkin

Interesting article from CNN.com discussing what the seasonal flu IS NOT THE SAME as COVID-19: https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/01/health/flu-vs-coronavirus-deaths/index.html

kyle renfro

if MLG order is absolute, why didnt she just have the state police arrest him, why was it necessary to have the Supreme Court threaten him. So now, anyone in the state that disobeys her order will have to go before the Supreme court to get a court order to force them to obey her court order ?

Mark Andrew

Great job "Moldy" Mayor Hicks! You've successfully made Grants the laughing stock of the state, brought the Supreme Court down on you (that should answer any similar arguments by other cities not complying), and brought a lawsuit against you and the city of Grants (and Grants taxpayers) for illegally firing your City Manager. Boy, you really thought this one through!

Emma Spring

TODAY IS LAW DAY....please celebrate it long and wide ❤

What is the rule of law?

What are our constitutional rights?

What is natural law?

What are our sovereign, sacred rights?

What is common sense and common courtesy?

For those of us moving forward in this exquisite transformation, we must touch in now and again to stand up for our rights. If we don't, they may be taken away.

How do we work with them for the betterment of all?

Reflect on how we can better ourselves and our community by acknowledging them without giving them up or allowing ruthless new laws to overcome us.

Celebrate the rule of law and the love of our sacred Universe ❤

https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-law-day-u-s-2020/

Michelle Lujan Grisham is being watched by the administration. Those governors who are playing with POWER at this time are in for quite an awakening. Keep it up, Michelle..... you're being closely watched by all.

Julie Berman

Love your threat...big brother non-sensical crapola. MLG has responded in a most responsible way to protect you and our State. Our sacred State and Universe is in a better place because of her concern and direction.

CL Larragoite

Agree! [thumbup]

Stefanie Beninato

Law day proclamation by Trump! Are you kidding? What hypocrisy!

Nicoletta Munroe

The fight to open arms dealing is counter-intuitive during the global pandemic. At a time when it is critical that we expedite the gathering of essentials, a firearm is not necessary. Arms are a proxy for power for those whom do not have the scruples to realize that argument and negotiation are the tools for civil order. I grew up in D.C. when it was unlawful in the District to possess a weapon. The need for arms was superseded during the ancient period when man found a common language. It appears that the termination of an employee at the final paragraph of the article symbolizes the mayor firing himself.

Khal Spencer

First of all, the D.C. law that banned guns was overturned as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Heller v District of Columbia. Secondly, the idea that the need for arms was superseded in the ancient period is simply at odds with history, as any history of arms will show that the evolution of arms has been continuous through history. Finally, the Governor was being served with a lawsuit since in order to buy or sell a gun to practically anyone, we now need to get a background check, only available through a licensed gun dealer. Since the State Constitution guarantees us the RKBA, this was an obvious infringement.

Article II, § 6 of the Constitution of New Mexico provides: No law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons.

So the Governor did the right thing. And I'm not sure what happened to my original post so pardon me if this double posts.

Charles Andreoli

The "by appointment only" is still a gross infringement. Just a tactic to try and deflect the law suit like NY pulled off.

Lupe Molina

@Santa Fe New Mexican, your rules state, "insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not." Referring to New Mexico's law enforcement as Gestapo is just that. Your comments sections have turned into 8chan.

Dan Three

This is nonsense and it is unconstitutional, not one person commenting here addressed the point Hicks made about the fact that if big box stores can remain open following the guidelines than why can't small businesses do the same. People (sheep) in this country and this state just want be told what to do how to live their lives and it's getting dangerous. The so-called “free press” used to question the government to keep it from getting too powerful, now it just totes the state line. The Constitution is all about the "people' and limiting the government’s power. By the way that's why you hear certain groups in this country trying to make the case for a "living breathing document” referring to the Constitution. If that's not a danger sign I don't know what is! If the Governor told Mr. Smith your store must remain closed but every other store in the state can open how would all the sheep react to that? Ronald Reagan quote “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help.” Careful what you wish for.

Jim Klukkert

You don't know what is!

Connie Lopez

So I guess Mayor Hicks lost, MLG won. Yet Mr. Hicks was so certain he was right to the point of being a martyr. Mayor Hicks, your 1 hour of fame has expired. Go back to being the mayor of what is still an ugly community: Grants. NM (yuck). Oh, and I was right all along. MLG does have the bigger hammer. Connie Lopez-Lucero.

kyle renfro

so neat that mlg has all these things that she can harass, intimidate, and threaten the people of NM, the only way she can get respect interesting that it takes a normal person years to go before the supreme court of nm, but not the people with which they have coffee with. I am not following any of your orders. Was the mayor even present to make counter arguments or allowed to file a counter brief, of course not one sided

Angel Ortiz

Kyle. Perhaps you should check in on the recent request from the Mayor of Gallup. Guess you represent the 1% who believes this crisis is a joke.

Barry Rabkin

The Mayor didn't have to be present. The 10th Amendment to the US Constitution was, and always is, present. That Amendment gives our Governor - and every Governor - the legal authority for the Health and Welfare of the people living in NM (or their respective States).

Anna Diaz

It's not about him, not about you!! I would think you would cower with fright if someone you knew had the virus and approached you. Stop making it political. This is a health issue. Maybe you and that "so called" Mayor should take a step back and look at the whole picture. So many people are doing the stay at home and social distancing, but it only takes a few dimwits to threaten the safety of all!!

Khal Spencer

Not taking sides on the pandemic issue in question but this is a good thing. The courts need to weigh in on how much power the Governor can wield and whether this law is Constitutional. This could be a good thing. Regardless as to whether the Governor and her cabinet are doing the right thing we are not in an absolute monarchy. The democratic principles of divided government and checks and balances need to be preserved.

Comment deleted.
Angel Ortiz

Mr. Johnson, here's an idea. Run down to NMSP headquarters, locate a State Police officer and use one of your derogatory insults. I'll pay for your bail. Up for the task? Have a wonderful day bro!

Stefanie Beninato

The state police are not Gestapo. Stop inciting racial hatred and implicit violence

Dr. Michael Johnson

If Hector has run out of things to do against real criminals, why doesn't he go after Andrea Romero and her crimes against tax payers? And BTW, I am not inciting, suggesting, or condoning anything, but merely expressing my Constitutional rights to free speech and to comment on politicians' actions, you should read up on that and know the difference. Here is what Hector really should be going after........https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/agency-seeks-8k-reimbursement-from-former-executive-director/article_c850868c-8a58-11ea-8e1b-634ceec18688.html

Stefanie Beninato

You sound like Trump Always trying to justify what you say. Words have power. With all the gun toting, 2nd amendment lovers in NM (isn't that why Hicks reopened? He needed ammo?) such words can tip someone over into violence.

Yes, the supreme court took this up quickly because we are in a health EMERGENCY--what don't you get about that Ken? The GOP has wanted this to go to the courts and ow it has and it ruled against them. Time for officials to enforce the law (stay at home order) or resign.

CL Larragoite

[thumbup]

Jim Klukkert

[offtopic]

Orlie Romero

Exactly, if they shut down so should all business as there is no logic in the division.

Connie Lopez

Remember Mayor Hicks was going to conduct a fireworks display, inviting everyone to , "Come on down!" Oh, my personal favorite: he was going to sue MLG in Federal court because the U.S. constitution was on his side. This dude is pathetic, "all hat no cattle" as they say in TX. Connie Lopez-Lucero

Charles Andreoli

Not yet but there is about twice as many as needed. If MG wants to save money she should furlough about half of them.

Robert Bartlett

Newsome in California will close all the beaches. LOL

Eric Allin

Actually, only beaches in the OC area.

kyle renfro

Aughhhh poor thing, "Hector, no one listens to me or respects me", Thats ok MLG i will contact the court, i only use the court when I think something is important and not for all relevant issues. I wont ask them if parts of your order are legal or not nor will we discuss which business' i specify as essential and which ones are not.

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