TRO filed against county commissioner

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A heated exchange between a county commissioner and a member of the public at Wednesday's meeting has resulted in a temporary restraining order being filed against Commissioner Donald Holliday.

The altercation began during the public comments, when Las Maravillas resident Mike Wood addressed the commissioners. He made reference to a Dec. 3 News-Bulletin article about the resignation of six county administrators.

"This is sad, very sad. These employees are a fine group of people. But I understand what's going on. It's easy to see, especially when you've been coming to meetings for more than five years," Wood said. "To see what three commissioners are doing to destroy the county commission's reputation.

"To destroy what's good and possible for this county. It's terrible to think that you three people could be such ruthless, rotten slime balls."

After Wood walked away from the podium, Commission Chairwoman Georgia Otero-Kirkham then asked the News-Bulletin reporter at the meeting, "Is that what the newspaper said?"

As Wood was coming back to the podium to further address the commissioners, Commissioner Donald Holliday said, "You don't have to say anything. Sit down."

Wood said he wanted to correct himself.

"If you took it that way, you took it the wrong way," he said. "I'm not saying the newspaper said that. It only made reference to the people who left. And Mr. Holliday, you're not the chairperson …"

"Oh, shut up," Holliday told Wood.

"What did you say?" Wood asked.

"I told you to shut up," Holliday replied.

Otero-Kirkham said "Mr. Wood" several times, eventually banging the gavel to try and regain control of the meeting.

"You don't tell me to shut up," Wood told Holliday. "I am speaking because the chairperson allowed me to speak during public comments. If you have a problem with it, you should resign as commissioner."

Holliday said he had no intention of resigning, and Wood responded that he would enjoy working with him for the next four years.

The chairwoman asked Wood to make his comments.

"Well, if you'd tell him to shut up I would. He (Holliday) keeps telling me to shut up," Wood said. "If you have something to say to me, say it outside. Let's not waste the time here."

Holliday stood up and put on his jacket, saying, "Let's go."

At that point, Commissioner Ron Gentry asked if Holliday actually wanted to fight a member of the public.

"What are you talking about? I'm going for coffee," Holliday said to Gentry, as he began to gather up his briefcase and paperwork.

Otero-Kirkham reminded Holliday that he couldn't leave yet because there was an executive session on the agenda after public comments.

Holliday then left the meeting room, going into the adjoining conference room, where the executive sessions are usually held.

Otero-Kirkham called the next person to speak, who was Wood's wife, Mary. When she made reference to three of the commissioners being a "self-serving group," Commissioner Mary Andersen went into the same conference room as Holliday.

When Otero-Kirkham called for a vote to go into executive session, Gentry was hesitant.

"I'm really concerned with the attitude of this commission. We've got one commissioner wanting to fight someone, one walking out on another person," Gentry said. "I'm not sure we can really be constructive. I'm not sure we should be doing any business if this is the prevailing attitude of this county commission.

"This is nuts. I've never seen anything like this in government — commissioners walking out, wanting to fist fight people."

After the meeting, Wood filed a report with the Los Lunas Police Department and was given a temporary restraining order against Holliday by District Court Judge John Pope.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled at 10:30 a.m., Monday, Dec. 19, before District Court Judge William Sanchez.

This wasn't the first time Wood sought and received a TRO against a commissioner.

In October 2009, he was granted a temporary restraining order against the entire commission after then chairman Pedro Rael issued the edict that Wood was not allowed to go to commission meetings without a court order or making prior arrangements with the commission.

That year, Wood was escorted out of four meetings due to comments he made from the audience and during the public comments part of the meeting.

The case was eventually settled, with both sides declaring it a victory — the judge basically said Wood could attend meetings, but he had to follow the rules for addressing the commissioners.


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.