Opinion: 'Modey Show' bad look for Grants, state
Last updated 5/9/2020 at 3:04pm
Mayor Martin “Modey” Hicks made national news lately for defying both the coronavirus and the governor by ordering businesses in Grants to reopen.
Down the road in Gallup, where cases have exploded, his counterpart begged the governor for a lockdown.
Only in New Mexico.
Hicks, whose flowing silver locks give him the look of a character in an Italian western, has annoyed and entertained the locals since becoming mayor in 2016. He’s popped up in news accounts regularly.
In 2016, Hicks proposed a day off for Good Friday. When a city councilor pointed out that it violated the separation of church and state, Hicks asked, “Are you a Jew?” He then said the city had many Christian churches but no mosques, apparently unaware that a mosque is a Muslim house of worship.
In an editorial, the Gallup Independent wrote, “We can’t help but shake our heads at Grants Mayor Martin ‘Modey’ Hicks and the things that come out of his mouth.”
Also in 2016, a middle school principal called state police saying Hicks was at the school threatening an administrator. She told 911 dispatch that Hicks said: “I’m comin’ after you. You’re gonna be out of here. You’re gonna be gone. Wait ’til my son gets back.”
The school was locked down. Hicks said he didn’t threaten the man but promised to “sue his ass” over Facebook posts.
Hicks has amped up city council meetings, which an official from the neighboring village of Milan called “the Modey show.” If anyone disagrees with him, he raises his voice, cuts them off, and drowns out their comments, according to news accounts.
He quarreled with Milan over waste treatment billing, refusing mediation in favor of a lawsuit.
Despite a controversial first term, Hicks was re-elected in 2018 because three challengers split the opposition vote, so Hicks won with 44 % of the vote.
Hicks claims he’s a Democrat. But he hates the Forest Service and badmouths it at every opportunity. He endorsed Steve Pearce, now Republican Party chairman, for governor. On learning in January that the power plant in Cibola County would close, Hicks said, “The Democrats and the Green New Deal have done this to us, and the only way to fix it is to quit voting for Democrats, period.”
He warned that the county had no prospects. “There ain’t nothing coming here. Why? Because we put the progressive socialists in Washington, D.C.”
So on April 27, when Hicks said “The governor is killing the state over a little bug,” it was just another Modeyism.
Asked by the Cibola Citizen about legal repercussions, Hicks said: “Bring it on, baby. She is violating the Constitution of the United States of America, and if she writes me a ticket I am going to sue her ... in federal court, where (Attorney General William) Barr can look at it.”
Hicks told city employees to return to work, and he reopened the town’s golf course. After state police issued a warning to the golf course director, Hicks said city police would order the state police out of town.
He told businesses that if state police showed up, they should ask to see a warrant because state police couldn’t close them without a warrant, which a judge would refuse to grant.
One business, socked with a big fine, found out the state health order has the force of law. The state Supreme Court ordered Hicks to comply.
The city manager refused to disobey a state order, Hicks fired her, and she sued. Said the lawsuit: “Hicks just wanted to open the golf course as a political stunt and to thumb his nose at the Governor.”
There you have it, folks — the first two seasons of The Modey Show, America’s champion of reopening.
Sherry Robinson is editor for New Mexico News Services. Contact her at: