Monday January 26, 2015
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I have only one short comment on this.
I do not think it was appropriate to criticize Tom Weeks in any way when he took note of a credit card charge against PSWID and asked the clerical staff a few questions about it. What was he supposed to do? Ignore it?
In fact I congratulate Tom for once again being the kind of person this whole town admires for being who, and what, he is: An honest, hardworking man, a reputable and respected businessman, and a mainstay of Pine.
Good work, Tom.
Keep it up. The whole town is with you!
Tom, I agree fully !
I wonder how much has been charged over the last several years that went unnoticed?
Who got the card and authorized the signatures at the bank?
Haven't there been audits?
Tom, I agree. Tom Weeks did the right thing. He acted in a way that we would like all public officials to act. From the article I would assume that not everyone on the PSWID board knew about the charge card. Who signed the checks that paid the charge bill? Did this person ever ask about the charges? Did the person signing the checks have an obligation to ask and investigate the charges? Shouldn't the person signing the checks look out for taxpayer money?
I can only repeat Tom Weeks did the right thing.
"Tom, I agree fully !"
I'm glad of that. Tom Weeks is one of the best.
It's all in the story.
"Who signed the checks that paid the charge bill? Did this person ever ask about the charges? Did the person signing the checks have an obligation to ask and investigate the charges? Shouldn't the person signing the checks look out for taxpayer money?"
I imagine we'll soon know the answers to all those questions.
I was at the PSWID meeting and witnessed the verbal assault on Tom Weeks by Chairman Gary Lovetro. I thank Tom Weeks for bringing this matter out in the open, if he had not, it is my opinion that it would have been swept under the rug. Tom is a well respected member of our Community for good reason, and as such deserves our gratitude and support.
Michael Greer who holds the office of Treasurer on the board and who made numerous unauthorized personal expenditures on a PSWID credit card should have already resigned or been asked to do so. Yes it is a volunteer position, but it comes with the expectation of honesty, integrity and trust. Whether it is identified as fraud, theft or some other legalise, it is still a violation of the law and his Oath of Office. A complete back dated investigation needs to be carried out.
As to the signing of the checks by another board officer I found the following ARS verbage, it references State officers and I found it interesting.
Unauthorized Expenditures of Public Funds.
Personal liability for financial expenditures made without authorization. To protect taxpayers, Arizona law strictly regulates the receipt, custody, control and expenditure of "public money," which is defined by ARS 36-302 as "money belonging to, received or held by state .....officers in their official capacity." For example an expenditure made without authorization is an illegal act resulting in joint and several liabiity to the state official APPROVING the payment and the person RECEIVING the payment. ARS 35-154 "Any state officer or employee who illegally witholds, expends, or otherwise converts any state money to an unauthorized purpose (is individually liable) for the amount of such money, plus a penal sum of twenty percent thereof. ARS 35-196.
NOTE: You should be careful whenever approving expenditures, or you may be liable personally.
Tom, you said that you did some studying of the law so from this it would seem to me that the board officer who SIGNED the checks is also responsible and where was the due diligence?
Am I wrong?
Pam, thanks for the information. I think you are correct. It appears that the person signing the check is also liable. If my memory serves me correctly, PSWID requires 2 signatures on their checks. Does anyone know if that is correct?
Why verbally assault the person who is doing the right thing?
How many people are authorized to use a credit card for PSWID and how many cards were
Maybe it would be a good idea to cancel the card or cards and get a new one with the rules written out on what and who is to use them.
Simple way to start out clean.
Made a typo Public Money defined by ARS 35-302
Mr. Greer has made more than one errors in judgment and has therefor proved himself to be not worthy of his position. It matters not that he is a volunteer ; he has responsibility. I do not have residency in PSWID but if I did I would call for his immediate resignation.
I am far from an expert on the law in any sense, but I would be very concerned if I were a person who had used public funds for private purposes, or if I had knowingly approved that use, or could be shown to have failed to use due diligence. If the county or state gets involved in this we'll soon see how seriously such things are viewed. What will be very telling is that it was not a past event which was accidentally uncovered, but a current one. In truth, I hate to see this happen, but I still complement Tom Weeks for doing the correct thing. He was wise to immediately ask questions. Anything else could be seen as complicity in a coverup.
In case anyone is wondering about the references made by Pam, I'll put them up in a second post.
I make no judgments on anyone, but it looks like this is going to be a serious matter. All I can say is that whatever happens it's a shame that it had to happen here in Pine.
What Pam is referring to are the basics, the answers to two questions:
a. Is the money "public funds," and (b) what do you have to do to become entangled with the law regarding public funds?
The first is answered by ARS 35-302, and the second by ARS 35-301 (which lists many ways to become entangled with the law regarding public funds other than taking it for your own use, but I've only quoted the very first of them, which covers that exact question. You can get into serious trouble for many other reasons; for just one example, by simply not depositing them expeditiously.
35-302. Public money defined
The phrase "public money" as used in this article includes bonds and evidence of indebtedness, and money belonging to, received or held by, state, county, district, city or town officers in their official capacity.
35-301. Duties and liabilities of custodian of public monies; violations; classification
A public officer or other person, including justices of the peace and constables, charged with the receipt, safekeeping, transfer or disbursement of public money is guilty of a class 4 felony who:
In the Board bylaws Sec. 5.5 treasurer
Treasurer is to report monthly to the board all income, expenses, assets, and liabilities.
Has this been done?
Yes, I own a house in Pine.
Pat, in answer to your question yes a quick verbal Treasurer statement is given as you outlined with $ amount that came in - out and money held in various accounts.. The PSWID.org website shows a link for financials. Information posted does not include a breakdown of checks issued, just general headings are used. For me I would prefer an in depth breakdown that I'm sure a computer could generate.. Hope this answers your question.
Tom, appreciate your clarification and yes I too am sorry that this expose` was even necessary.
Maybe they need to give a breakdown. Only giving a total can hide a lot of things.
I am not accusing anyone of anything as I don't know any of them. Only know what I read in the paper and on here.
There was money taken out of the Tonto Basin Cemetery account to pay personal bills several years ago when one person was taking care of it. There was a trial. What a joke that was. The person given probation and didn't have to pay it back. Now there is a committe that takes care of it.
Next election (can hardly wait) we need to elect new Superior court judges in Gila County.
I know Tom, off the track again.
On track as far as I can see.
I have no opinion about the details regarding the monthly summary of expenditures other than this: The only "public" office I ever held was on the board of an HOA. After I was elected to the board, we sat down once a month and went over every nickel that had been spent--where, why, for what, and by whom. It took a while, but not all that long, and what happened was that we soon found ways of saving money, and we felt that we had a much better handle on what was happening.
For example, I noted during the second meeting that there were some home owners who owed back-dues for several years, three of them ever since the HOA was formed. I asked why and was told that there was no way to force them to pay. I asked about putting a lien on their houses and was told it was a waste of time because we couldn't collect on it until they sold. I again asked why and was told that there was no use in starting foreclosure proceedings because the first mortgage holder and and so on would get the first shot at the funds and we'd be left with nothing.
I thought about that and came back with a plan. In eight weeks every one of the smart alecks was paid up, right to date. Why? Here's my plan: "Get a lawyer. File a lien. Then start the process of foreclosure. The instant they see they are about to loose their houses they'll pay up."
Someone said, "But what if they call our bluff?"
"What bluff? We're better off to get rid of someone who won't pay. At least we'll start collecting monthly dues. And the first time we foreclose the rest of the people will pay up."
Worked fine. They not only paid the arrears they owed, they were assessed interest, and also paid all legal costs, both theirs and ours.
The point is, if we hadn't been going over those funds in detail it would never have happened. I am in favor of everything being right out there on the table during board meetings. How can you solve a problem you don't know exists?
I think it is time for some "detail" in PSWID bookkeeping.
Mabe an audit would be good.
Remember when our present town manager in Payson found a $million no one seemed to know about???
I suppose there will be an audit. There almost has to be. It's the only way to be sure what has happened. That's just as important in clearing those not involved as it is for anything else.
I get a newsletter from WaterForPineStrawberry@hotmail.com each month. The latest one has a lot of information about all this, and includes a humdinger of a letter from someone who went to a recent PSWID meeting.
You can go to www.WaterForPineStrawberry.com for more if you are interested.
Thanks, Tom. That letter is a humdinger. I hope Pine/Strawberry residents will read it and contact PSWID Board members requesting that they clean up their act and request some some board member resignations. While cleaning up their act, I hope PSWID will do something about the district's water quality. According to an article in today's Roundup it seems that PSWID water is a bit "turbid."
Would it be appropriate to say "it never rains, but it pours."
If you haven't read the latest story in the Roundup, here's how it starts:
"About 30 distraught Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District customers confronted board members during a Nov. 15 meeting demanding to know why water in the two mountain hamlets is often turbid, sandy and seemingly undrinkable.
But they didn’t get the answer they sought."
My comment: Somebody knows why that water is so muddy looking.
It's time we learned some facts.
Tom, we do need some facts in addition to some resignations. If the credit card user is allowed to stay on the PSWID Board the whole board loses credibility. I believe that without credibility, PSWID will not get the patience and support of the community that PSWID needs while trying to figure out the "turbid water" problem and any other problems that might exist.
Why did they drill 2 more wells before they knew how to handle the problems with the two deep wells that they bought? Why did they drill a deep well in Pine with the plan to dedicate the water from this well for Strawberry? Wouldn't it be cheaper in the long run to drill in Strawberry rather than spend for the electricity needed to pump it up hill?
Many questions, too few answers. In the meantime PSWID has a debt of about $7 million.
"Why did they drill 2 more wells before they knew how to handle the problems with the two deep wells that they bought?"
My question would be simpler: Why buy a well which clearly showed itself to be drilled into a pocket of sand? The well was a bust. Why buy it at all?
"Wouldn't it be cheaper in the long run to drill in Strawberry rather than spend for the electricity needed to pump it up hill?"
If we had drilled a deep well in Strawberry in the first place--at a cost of $375,000--we wouldn't be asking all these questions.
Answer this: Since the K-2 well had already been surveyed and appeared to be a source of clean, clear water at a low price, why wasn't it drilled after we bought out the water company?
Way back when all this stuff began, I pointed out that any Geology 101 class would tell you that where you have a valley with a stream flowing onto a flat between two high hills the center of that valley is going to be filled with sand that was carried down by fast moving water and dumped there when the water slowed down. Beneath any surface stream there is a natural continuation of it in the form of a below surface stream. No one who knows the slightest thing about geology would think of drilling a deep well in such a place. A shallow well, yes, because it is almost certain to strike water that will flow at a rate that can serve two or three housing units. But a deep well? Never!
We went over this over and over years ago, but it was ignored. Now we are paying the price for an incredible snow job. The best thing that can be done with a well that is sitting in sand is to either reduce the flow rate to a few gallons a minute--if that small amount is usable in any way, or to just abandon it. Trying to correct the problems involved is--in real life--like throwing your money down a well.
The Milk Ranch well was a snow job by Mr. Ray Pugel. He didn't like the sales price that the PSWID came up with so he along with Lovetro got together and said the filtering of the water was an unncessary expense that didn't need to be included in the price. The Hydrologists, etc. that came up with that selling price were fired. Ray Pugel claimed he went to Flagstaff and checked on their wells that didn't need filtering. We got a snow job on that one for sure. We have gotten so many snow jobs, it's a white out in Pine at this point!!!!
Tom, I agree with you. We have experienced a snow job. As you must know, I wanted the K-2 well drilled and I did not want to purchase the deep wells in Pine. For that matter, I did not want the community to purchase the water company because I thought we would end up exactly where we are at. Huge debt, higher water cost for the customer, and water problems. I certainly thought it was foolish to spend the money to drill two more deep wells in Pine when the problems with the purchased wells had not been solved.
However, as I watched the PSWID Board's actions I kept on hoping that they knew something I didn't and maybe things would work out. Well, we are in a deep hole right now =--large debt, turbid water, misuse of credit card and board members that should resign and won't. You know that PSWID recall election that was held before the water company purchase cost the taxpayers of Pine/Strawberry a lot of money. I can't remember the exact cost, but take my word for it -- it cost more than a couple thousand.
Yet, if people don't resign we might be forced into going that route again.
Anybody have a good, rational idea about how to solve the PSWID problem?
Tom, with respect to why didn't we drill the K-2 well after the water company purchase -- I think that the people who came on the board after the recall election felt they were elected to purchase the water company and the Milk Ranch Well.
If you go back to the May 2010 PSWID Board minutes you will see some discussion about this matter. The relationships with Tetra Tech and Mike Ploughe were severed and the pressure began to push Bill Haney and Harry Jones out because I believe it was thought that they were slowing down the move to purchase the well.
What did Tetra Tech and Mike Ploughe get out of all this?
Wasn't Plough supposed to be working for the town of Payson at that time? If so someone wasn't getting thier moneys worth. Either Payson or PSWID?
I guess all we can do now is wait. We'll see what comes of all this.
He who does not bellow the truth when he knows the truth makes himself the accomplice of liars and forgers.
- - - Charles Peguy
That is the best post I have read in a long time.
"Tom, with respect to why didn't we drill the K-2 well after the water company purchase -- I think that the people who came on the board after the recall election felt they were elected to purchase the water company and the Milk Ranch Well. "
No doubt about that; they ran on a platform that said, "We have water now."
"He who does not bellow the truth when he knows the truth makes himself the accomplice of liars and forgers. - - - Charles Peguy"
I agree with Pat.
One thing I'd like to see come out of all this is Tom Weeks as head of the board--if he has the time to take on the duties.
My, my. Everyone should read the Max Foster article in today's Payson Roundup. Seems that Mike Greer used that credit card more than once.
I don't know about you guys, but I have occasionally pulled the wrong card out of my wallet. When I have pulled the wrong card, I always realized it before the transaction ended and, while they don't like to do it, the cashier corrected the matter at my request.
I have promised to be nice (afterall Christmas is right around the corner) so I will say no more.
Hope they have a good turnout for the Thursday, December 6 meeting at the community center.
The question remains who signed the checks?
Lovetro can't comment because of Open Meeting Laws? Are taxpayers paying for legal advice to the Board over this matter? Well, the questions just keep coming.
How many credit cards were issued would be a good question wouldn't it?
Like Bernice I would like to know who the two (2) people were who signed the checks and why weren't the checks questioned at the time. Time for an audit and lots more questions asked and answered.
"How many credit cards were issued would be a good question wouldn't it?"
According to what I have read, here was just one card."
"I have promised to be nice (afterall Christmas is right around the corner) so I will say no more."
I could say a lot. There are some disparities in statements regarding the time line of events, disparities of critical importance, but I'll just go with what Bernice said. We will know soon enough.
Just one comment, one I have made before: Tom Weeks is the best.
Aye, Aye with respect to Tom Weeks. I am so proud that I signed his petition to run for the Board. But then a lot of people signed that petition and should also be proud!
Mr. Greer should resign. If all it was in his mind and that of a couple of others is that it was a "stupid mistake", then we certainly don't need people on that board that easily "make stupid mistakes" nor those that apologize for "stupid mistakes". I agree, we need to clone a whole bunch of Jim Weeks and send several to Washington in the process. Interesting how when the light of truth is turned on, the rats head for cover.
I agree with both of you.
What I do not agree with is any claim that nothing "illegal" was done. Read these two Arizona statutes again and explain to me how using PSWID funds for personal use is not in violation of them:
"35-302. Public money defined
The phrase "public money" as used in this article includes bonds and evidence of indebtedness, and money belonging to, received or held by, state, county, district, city or town officers in their official capacity.
Without authority of law, appropriates it, or any portion thereof, to his own use, or to the use of another."
a. PSWID is a Gila County agency.
b. "...charged with the receipt, safekeeping, transfer or disbursement of public money..." certainly fits the definition of treasurer.
c. "...appropriates it, or any portion thereof, to his own use..." could not be more plain.
The time for explanations of how and why this happened is during a trial, not now.
Click on "Polls" A new screen comes up that asks questions. One of the questions is, Do you think Mike Greer should resign?" Please go and vote.
Thanks, Bernice, but where is "Polls?"
At the top of the page under the name Payson Roundup and just to the left of "Search."
Maybe I should try again. On the line where you find "Roundup Blog" keep going to the right past "Social Media" "Events" "Tourism" and then "Polls" click on polls. When the screen comes up, click on the question. Another screen comes up and you can vote.
Thanks, Bernice. Nice feature. Never noticed it. The programmer has made a lot of changes and I usually only take note of those which affect the forum.
That's a handy feature. In future I may make use of it by putting up a question and letting people air their opinions that way. It requires a vote, but not a comment, so it's possible to get opinions without people having to trouble themselves to say why they hold those opinions.
FYI anyone, the current poll is 42 to 2 in favor of resignation.
Trouble is, I suspect that resignation is beside the point and that this has to be a matter of legal action. I do not see any way around, at the very least, some form of action by the County or State Attorney in considering whether or not a charge should be filed. Either the law has obviously been broken or we have all forgotten how to read.
I'm not being vindictive, by the way. Whether the action merits prosecution is something someone else will have to decide, but if "someone" doesn't take a look at what happened and make a decision the lid will come off this place as the cry of "coverup" explodes. We do not need that; we have enough problems already.
So someone needs to make a calm and rational decision on the matter and say what should be done, or not done. We need to clear the air. This is a small town. You can't just leave an apparently illegal action hanging. I'm sure that even Mike Greer wants the air cleared. Think about how he must be feeling at the moment. At any minute the axe might fall. That's a lousy feeling.
The Roundup wrote "The district has suffered a series of problems ranging from burned out pumps and power outages to murky water as it took over a system that Brooke had neglected for years." Yes the district did inherit problems from Brooke but burnt out pumps, power outages and murky water is not one of them.
The cause of the major water outage in June of this year was determined to be the recently installed booster pumps at Milk Ranch Well #1 that "burned up and froze" and the one at Strawberry Hollow that suffered nearly the same malfunction. We had the October finding that Milk Ranch Well #1 was producing turbid water (see Roundup photo of ice cubes) and the temporary solution was to divert the water from the system.
It was in May of 2010 that Michael Greer asked for the contracts with HDJ Management, Highland Water Resources and Tetra-Tech be terminated. He also said that Bill Haney the then Chairman of PSWID should resign. Mr. Lovetro was heard to call out for the chairman to resign as well.
Both of them felt that the parties mentioned were moving too slow in getting the Milk Ranch and Strawberry Hollow wells purchased and online. Mr. Greer claimed "We also need competitive bids for the engineering that needs to take place vs the outrageous, over-engineered and speculative engineering concepts that have been proposed thus far."
Part of the quotel from Tetra-Tech was to install a filtration system which was ignored. It is my opinion that the engineering proposal submitted by Tetra-Tech was not over-engineered. It was already known that sand and fines in the deep well water were present and to move forward and completely ignore recommendations amounts to a lack of due diligence.
Tom you are correct that the air needs to be cleared, and I think that sentiment should also have been extended to Mr. Haney at the time of his resignation.
(Sorry I can't seem to get paragraphs)
Your paragraphs look fine to me. So does your logic.
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