District Judge Consolidates Recall Petition Cases Against Three Los Alamos County Councilors

By MAIRE O’NEILL
Los Alamos Daily Post
maire@ladailypost.com

First Judicial District Judge David K. Thomson has ordered three cases filed by Los Alamos resident Greg White against Los Alamos County Councilors Susan O’Leary, Antonio Maggiore and Rick Reiss to be consolidated.

In an order filed May 23, Judge Thomson also asked for opinions from the New Mexico Secretary of State, Los Alamos County Clerk and Attorney General Hector Balderas as to whether a state Constitutional provision barring a recall election after May 1 in a year in which a person holding elected office has their term expire applies as in the case O’Leary and Reiss.

Attached to the order is a copy of a communication between White and Judge Thomson in which White says there are “time concerns” involved in his attempt to recall Reiss and O’Leary, which are “becoming near impossible to meet”. He expresses concern that although the two councilors have announced that they do not intend to seek reelection, they could enter the race as write-ins on the ballot.

“Whether or not they do decide to run as a write-in, the people of Los Alamos need to know they have broken their oath of office so many times that they do not deserve to hold office ever again,” White’s email states.

He claims O’Leary and Reiss have thrown the whole county into turmoil and caused him “and other citizens to lose their rights”.

“There is little or no recourse to hold them accountable for their violations of law other than a recall,” White said.

Meanwhile, Councilors Reiss and Maggiore, through their attorney Jack Hardwick, have filed motions to dismiss alleging that White did not attach a copy of his proposed recall petition to the complaints and that he failed to serve them with the lawsuits after he filed them.

Councilor O’Leary opted to send a multi-page response to Judge Thomson. She first asks the Court to determine whether White circulated a petition for her recall at the Los Alamos Gun Show April 21-22 or at any other time without first receiving Court approval.

O’Leary told Judge Thomson she objected to White’s characterization of her as “a member of the Gang of Five – explicitly equated to a violent criminal gang”.

“The defendant (O’Leary) is not a member of a gang of any kind and the plaintiff’s (White’s) casual disregard for the truth in this matter as in so many other matters should color the Court’s review of his allegations,” O’Leary states in her response.

O’Leary goes through each of the allegations made by White in his complaint and responds to each stating that she has absolutely no authority to act independently on behalf of Los Alamos County, has never done so and has never purported to do so, so there was never any individual action taken. 

She states that White’s complaints represent policy disagreements and that the remedy available to him is to run for office to replace her or to support and vote for others who share his views.

O’Leary also states that White’s allegations “reflect a combination of falsehoods and illogical conclusions painted from a fundamental misunderstanding of the authority and responsibility of individual members of a legislative body”.

“Having a public policy that is disagreeable to another person is not malfeasance or misfeasance or a violation of the oath of office. It is an inescapable element of our democratic system. It is of course impossible to agree with everyone all of the time,” she states. “Relying on the financial and legal staff of the County for factual information and advice is not malfeasance or misfeasance or a violation of the oath of office. It is what why the public pays for that expertise.”

O’Leary concludes by asking Judge Thomson to dismiss the petition and hold White to account for his “false allegations and any improper actions” found to have been taken in circulating a petition and if possible for the time and expense incurred in adjudicating the matter.

In a statement this morning to the Los Alamos Daily Post, White called the motions to dismiss “without merit” and “just deceitful towards the tribunal”.

“Only the guilty hire lawyers and try to avoid defending themselves by procedural motions. If these councilors are so sure their actions are legal and are willing to spend to date $600,000 of the tax payers’ money defending their actions, why do they need a lawyer anyway?” White said. “The citizens of Los Alamos should read all of my court filings since October for themselves, not just rely on media snapshots and they will learn the truth about Los Alamos government.”

Judge Thomson has set a hearing for Tuesday, May 29 in Santa Fe for Reiss and Maggiore and granted a continuance for O’Leary until June 18.

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