Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Breaking News: High court halts Whites Peak exchanges


The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the New Mexico Supreme Court has agreed to grant Attorney General Gary King's emergency petition -- just one day after it was filed -- effectively putting a halt to four land exchanges at Whites Peak.

The State Land Office has until February 15th to respond.

As we first reported last night, King believes Land Commissioner Pat Lyons violated the law because the public auctions were set up so there could only be one bidder.

King called that scenario for all practical purposes a "sham."

NM Court justices could set a new legal precedent, because the petition filed on Monday addresses a relatively narrow question never addressed by a New Mexico court:
Does the Commissioner violate the duty imposed on him by the Enabling Act, the New Mexico Constitution, and his fiduciary obligations to the trust by conducting substantially constrained “public auctions” in order to achieve a predetermined result?
“We’re not saying that the land commssioner doesn’t have the authority to do exchanges, but in this particular case it appears he steered it to one bidder,” King told us last night

King said the court hearing "is a good valid way for two parties that disagree to get a resolution to a dispute.”

Lyons has defended the trades saying he followed the same process used in land trades for decades by the State Land Office. He told the New Mexican "the trades resolve management problems and will help create a quality hunt area on public lands around Whites Peak"

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