While Dallas City Manager Jim Palenick continues to make a living here, litigation between him and his former employer has wound its way to the highest court in New Mexico.
The 4-year-old suit concerns Palenick's assertion that he
is owed more than $120,000 in back pay from Rio Rancho, N.M.
He was the city manager there from July 2003 until he was fired in December 2006.
The New Mexico Supreme Court
heard 30 minutes of oral arguments from either side in the case last week.
Several months will likely pass before it renders a decision.
"It's really nothing different," Palenick
said when asked about the proceedings Friday.
"It's just the continuing process of the case moving forward."
The lawsuit involves allegations that Rio Rancho leaders violated the state's open meetings law when they terminated Palenick
firing prompted the New Mexico
attorney general to review how it occurred.
In September 2007, eight months after the termination, the attorney general determined that Rio Rancho's former mayor and several City Council members held private conversations about Palenick prior to firing him.
The attorney general rendered the firing invalid.
Rio Rancho responded by voting again to terminate Palenick
in November 2007 - 11 months after the initial action.
didn't let the issue die.
Bolstered by the attorney general's ruling, he
lawsuit in 2008, demanding more than $120,000 in back pay for the 11 months that he
was theoretically still employed - but not paid - by Rio Rancho.
Palenick moved from New Mexico when he was hired as city manager of Gastonia in August 2007.
held that post for more than four years until a newly elected City Council fired him in December 2011.
Former Dallas City Manager Ed Munn was then hired to replace Palenick, and Palenick took Munn's place in Dallas.
Since the lawsuit was filed, Rio Rancho has claimed that Palenick
claim to back pay when he
demanded and received a $110,000 severance package and took the Gastonia
A District Court initially ruled in the city's favor, but an appeals court overturned that ruling, giving Palenick
Rio Rancho is asking the Supreme Court to reverse that decision.
An attorney for the New Mexico
Foundation for Open Government argued in Palenick's favor before the Supreme Court.
did not attend the hearing and said he
has no way of knowing how the case might end up.
"There's really no way to tell," he
"You don't get feedback."
The decision that comes down the pike in a few months will likely resolve the debate, Palenick
"I'd assume this will be the end," he