Friday July 29, 2016
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Lightning-caused fires burn atop the Rim July 29, 2016
Since the time of the recall election the PSWID Board has been a battleground instead of a place where public spirited citizens meet together to do what is best for two rural mountain communities. Perhaps that is about to change.
The day after tomorrow in Pine there will be a PSWID board meeting that has the potential of making a fresh start in what has been the most controversial small town public agency I have ever seen.
As I see it, two board members have a choice; they can either do what is right and remove themselves from the board, or they choose to remain there and be targets of a recall--or worse.
I entirely endorse the action of Tom Weeks in doing his duty as a board member in calling to the attention of the board, and the attention of the citizens of Pine and Strawberry, a questionable action taken by a board member. Tom Weeks did exactly the right thing when he made that action public so that it could be handled in public where it belonged. Had he done anything else he would have been doing a disservice to the people who elected him. Not only that, he could conceivably have been seen as part of a coverup if he had not taken the high road.
I also applaud Don Smith's action in bringing up a policy change that would permit local providers of necessary supplies such as gasoline. It would be patently ridiculous to expect our vehicles to drive 32 miles round trip to Payson to gas up, thereby wasting a gallon or more of gas each time they did a fill up. The policy only makes good sense. Anything other policy would suggest that we do not trust our own board, and while there may be some reason to feel that way at this point in time, let's hope that is about to change.
Furthermore, the request to place the role of the board chairman and CH2MHILL in water board affairs during a public meeting is, in my humble opinion, exactly the kind of refreshingly open and honest discussion we have been waiting for.
Good luck, board members. We are with you. Perhaps it has at last become time for peace to reign in what should be a coming together of like minds in the interest of friends and neighbors.
You can rest assured that everyone in Pine and Strawberry will thank you for it if you can make that happen.
I'd like to hear from everyone on this issue. Everyone!
This is not just a legal issue; it is a case of dictatorial methods having gone on for too long. it is time to clean house. If I am wrong, tell me so, but if I am right, raise your voice and be heard. The people in two small mountain communities need your support.
Tom, I hope everyone who can attends the PSWID meeting December 6 at 6 p.m. at the Pine Cultural Center. Tom Weeks deserves the support of the community he so bravely represents. I am very concerned that Lovetro, Board Chairman and others on the board are going to play the "attack the whistle blower" card.
I had asked PSWID to put the resignation of Mike Greer on their agenda. The agenda that is posted on the PSWID website (pswid.org) makes no mention of Mike Greer's resignation.
Instead the agenda mentions a paper that was prepared by their attorney.
I repeat, please, if at all possible attend the meeting.
Tom and any other Reader: It is high time that citizens begin to look at governmental actions in a more pure and simple way. Is it serving the needs of the constituents in the best possible way? Is it morally upright? Can it stand the test of daylight? Is it done in a way that fosters a spirit of collegiality? Does it make good sense? I could add others but you get the point : some things really are simple. In this particular instance, PSWID should have no or few options and the individuals involved should have even fewer. Mr. Weeks actions stand the test. Mr. Greer's do not. Mr. Greer should immediately resign because his actions do not "pass the smell test". Buying gasoline( and possibly other supplies)locally makes good sense so long as there is policy that orders that items be purchased in such a way that a monopoly or other unfair practices do not exist. There. That was not so difficult. was it ?
I had posted this on another thread, but feel it bears re-posting here.
Mr. Lovetro seems to think that since Mr. Greer reimbursed the district for $2290.00, give or take a little, and "Apologized" for his actions, all should be forgiven.
NOT SO! Without having any receipts, Mr. Greer should be forced to reimburse the entire amount charged to the card. Simply by saying "Home depot charges were for PSWID business" does not cut it. He could have been buying gifts for friends, power tools for himself, materials for his own home, any number of things, and I for one am not willing to merely accept his word that they were "PSWID Purchases". If we don't have receipts... we have no proof.
Secondly, Mr. Lovetro seems to think of the PSWID as his on little fiefdom and that running things by intimidation and tit for tat accusations is the way he can get what HE wants out of the PSWID. Mr. Lovetro, the PSWID is set up for the betterment of the community, not for you to feel a sense of empowerment. You are personally responsible for making a small community organization a hostile environment where your own petty issues are played out in soap opera fashion. The stories and rumors surrounding the PSWID are unbelievable, and as a resident of Pine, I can say that we are too small of a community to be having these issues ruin what should be a straight forward organization.
Turbidity? No Problem... they have these crazy things called Filters. Problem solved. Tetra Tech recommended them and was set to install them, that is until Mr. Lovetro made dealing with the PSWID so uncomfortable that Tetra Tech washed their hands of us.
Mr. Greer and Mr. Lovetro BOTH need to step up and do the right thing... resign.
I am not sure I understand everything that has been written lately but here goes.
Mike Greer used a credit card illegally? Paid back some of it. Proof of doing something illegal?
Mr. Weeks brought it to the attention of the board and the public.
Then Mr. Lovetro jumps in and accuses Mr. Weeks of conflict of interest for selling fuel to PSWID for two years. Why didn't Mr. Lovetro bring it to the attention of the board and public before now if he thought it was a conflict of interest?
Is he trying to protect Mr. Greer by bringing something else into the fray? Maybe his history should be checked, you think?
Who has hired the attorney?
Oh what a tangled web we weave !
Does anyone have the answers to my questions?
I fully expect Chairman Gary Lovetro to come out swinging to protect his friend and former business partner Michael Scott Greer. It would be nice if more of the public would attend the meeting and let Tom Weeks know that we really appreciate his efforts to make the misappropriation of our public monies known. Tom should be congratulated not attacked!
Anyone who needs reimbursement for monies spent on behalf of a company or district knows that they need to account for every cent with receipts that match. They should indicate exactly what money and job it was spent on and why. You don't need to be a business major to figure that out. The checks should never ever have been signed without supporting documents. The gravy train is over. Greer and Lovetro are both business owners so they certainly cannot claim ignorance.
Evidently double standards are okay, it was Greer and Lovetro that wanted the resignation of former chair Bill Haney who was attempting due diligence with regards to the purchase of Strawberry Hollow and the " pristine" waters of Milk Ranch Well. Why are they not ready to examine themselves and resign. To go after Conflct of Interest with Tom Weeks is a smoke screen and a slippery path.
I can only hope for the best and expect the worst.
I didn't read a word here that I disagree with. What you folks say is right. I especially echo the thoughts of Rick Hawthorne and John Lemon. Pine and Strawberry were once a pair of small, friendly communities, but one small public entity--PSWID--has changed all that. There is no excuse for the kind of hostility we have seen over the past few years. What is there to argue about? If the board is doing what's best for us no one has any reason to argue. So why are we arguing? The conclusion is obvious.
I am shocked to have been informed that a question has been posed at the office of the county attorney regarding the purchase of gasoline from Tom Weeks' gas station, but no question about $9,000 worth of personal purchases made with public funds has as much as even been raised. How can that possibly be? That, as John puts it, does not "pass the smell test".
"Why didn't Mr. Lovetro bring it to the attention of the board and public before now if he thought it was a conflict of interest? Is he trying to protect Mr. Greer by bringing something else into the fray?"
From what people are saying, I think that is what they believe.
"Maybe his history should be checked, you think?"
I have reason to believe that has already been done.
"Who has hired the attorney?"
For some odd reason, something is done during PSWID open meetings that I have never encountered before in any other such meeting; an attorney is present. Apparently he is there to advise some board members on what they may say during the meetings. It has always made me wonder why a simple board meeting should have to take on the air of an adversarial dispute. Who is the other half of the dispute? The citizens sitting in on the meeting?
This whole matter smacks of something not quite right. It is hurting this community, and hurting it badly. It's no surprise that the unemployment rate in Gila County is higher than that in the state. Our business up here is growth and the bad atmosphere is hurting us.
If you were thinking of retiring and moving to a small, quiet mountain community would you come here? I wouldn't. One thing I did before I retired up here from Mesa was subscribe to the Roundup for a year or so. Had I been reading about the anger and conflict we've had, as far back as the recall election, I would have taken one look at the this battleground and bought elsewhere.
I probably should not enter this discussion as I live in Payson and therefore do not have a "dog in this fight". However, I believe that this is a bigger issue than "Pine Strawberry dispute".
When one is accorded the trust and responsibility of carrying and being permitted to utilize a credit card which is payable by another entity; the accountability is, and should be, HUGE. There should not even be the APPEARANCE of impropriety. A receipt should be saved for each and every purchase billed to the credit card. Those receipts should be turned in to the Treasurer with an attachment, detailing the job number or name that the amount should be billed against, as well as a detailed description of what was done, why and when.
I believe that I read on here that Mr. Greer is an electrical contractor? If he is a successful one with ongoing business, then I am quite certain he is familiar with the practice of itemized billing. When a contractor purchases equipment and materials for a job, a truly successful one does not go to the store and purchase said items willy nilly. He has a list of what and how much he needs for each job.
It is my contention that a truly ethical person who is accorded the trust of carrying a credit card, needs to ALWAYS err on the side of caution and clarity.
Without all of the information on this case, I hesitate to make an absolute statement, but I will anyway...ALL parties involved should resign. Regardless of Mr. Greer's reimbursement and apology, and regardless of what Mr. Lovetro may be doing NOW, they both have lost the trust of the very people for whom they are working. As I stated previously, the very appearance of impropriety should be avoided at all costs.
Nicely said. Very nicely.
I have yet to hear anything new about yesterday's meeting, but I am hoping that what happened is something that will bring this matter to a close. Nothing good comes out of seeing someone hurt, and I truly feel for Mike Greer. Right now he is the center of a hornet's nest of anger and accusations. Wherever the truth lies, delaying the outcome will only make things worse for him. His best choice is obvious, I hope that for his sake he has taken it.
See you all later today.
The PSWID meeting went pretty much the way I thought it would. No resignations and Tom's Texaco will no longer be supplying gas to work vehicles driven by CH2M Hill employees.
Please note I only wrote some of the opinion quotes because the board waived Attorney-Client privilege and copies were available for the public.
The lawyer supplied two opinions the first "purchase of gasoline by CH2M Hill from a service station owned by a board member" Part of which said "I would never attempt to authoritatively speak or speculate as to the reaction by the Attorney General on this issue. However, it seems logical to me that if the District is able to sidestep a conflict of interest by simply purchasing gas from across the street then that is probably what the board needs to do" Obviously the lawyer wrote more but you get the gist.
Second opinion "Whether a board member may use a District credit card for personal purchases" Lawyer said "I did a fair amount of research online and even communicated with a city attorney that I reached out to" More was written in general about credit cards being issued to public officials and governmental employees. "In my communication with the city attorney, he offered to me that "public embarrassment" was likely the strongest consequence that could be applied by the board. I leave it to the individual members of the board on whether the apology offered was contrite and honest. In any event, it is clear from the draft minutes that at least one board member recommended that Greer's apology be accepted and that no further action was needed on the issue. That action was certainly within the board's right" (Note: District Rules and Regulations are silent on the issue of credit card usage. However, all officers do take an oath but I guess that does not mean anything)
It should be noted that the office accounting manager an employee of CH2M Hill came to the defense of Mike Greer. Later on Secretary Dickinson said he did not sign any of the checks so I'm wondering what board member did?
I have a strong opinion about all of this mess, but last night sat back and listened to others from the community speak up. New faces, fresh opinions many calling for the resignation or recall of Greer and Lovetro. The treatment of Tom Weeks and then the issue about not buying gas from his facility did not go over well either.
The Roundup, reader’s letters, radio and Sam Schwalm were criticized and a few "important supporters" claimed that there was a lot of misinformation and one even admonished new people to the community that they should not speak up because they did not know the facts.
Just my take on all of this but then I'm no journalist.
A more detailed audit is now taking place going back to 2008.
Hi, Tom - nice to see you after all these years. :-) Unfortunately, I could not make the meeting in Pine last night, I'm recovering from an annoying hip replacement. So, as I read through this thread I find myself nodding like a bobble head, agreeing with most, and almost agreeing with some. The only thing that I really ever wanted to see on the board was the critical element of Trust, using the public money/funds in a responsible and accountable way, and moving forward with our water decisions and direction that benefit both Pine/Strawberry.
MY thought is that ANYTIME there is public concern over things on the board it IS our business, and it doesn't matter WHO is saying what, we need to get to the bottom of it. I want RIGHT and will not accept WRONG. And it's that simple. I'm sorry if this is too black and white for some; however, when it comes to maintaining the boundaries of the LAW, as opposed to stretching and actually BREAKING those boundaries, I do not care who you are, I don't want you representing me anymore.
Pam, I am glad to hear that more of an audit is called for. Personally I want to know how clean my elected officials are that represent me on the board. I'm sure nothing else will appear, but that's just my feeling. We have some really wonderful board members, and for an elected position, not a paid one, I even wonder why they would want to be there. Just a thought for you, and this is: perhaps Sam isn't getting the respect he deserves on this issue because he's been pretty redundant on previous "issues" that didn't turn up any smoking gun.
Tom, I appreciate your comment on Pine/Strawberry and retirement. Having been down here in the Valley for far too long now, I really miss the pines and my nice little friendly hamlet of Pine/Strawberry. Yes, we disagree on important issues, but hey- this is America. We can do that, and the next day admire our neighbor's Christmas lights. IF i COULD retire, I wouldn't think twice about Pine. You wouldn't believe how many people HERE are SO jealous that I get to live there.
Well, happy holidays to you all.
Jane, I am sorry that you have had to have hip replacement surgery. I hope the healing process goes well for you. From what I have heard about the procedure it can either be the best thing that ever happened or the worst. Here's hoping yours turns out to be the best!
I, too, believe that public servants paid or unpaid should be held to a high standard especially when dealing with taxpayer money.
Thank you, Bernice. It's been something. I have a rock star surgeon that I "found" doing a lot of research. The only "good" thing is that I'm considered a pediatric patient. :-) I hope to be walking around the hills of Mistletoe by this spring!
The entire situation regading the wsater district is both pathetic and apalling as far as an "outsider" like me can glean from the published material. The apparent small town "fiefdom" attitude of the Board angers me and the published response of Mr. Greer is simply not coherent to me. Regarding another matter : the Pine Ice company. I have been told that the company ownership has been transfered to the daughter of the former owner, who serves on the water Board. I would love to see an accounting of the rates and fees paid by Pine Ice ! There is chatter that Pine Ice has been paying rates for usage by a business that would normally be applied to a residence. I can not state that the chatter is true or not true but if that Board worked more openly perhaps the question would not arise? A majority of the people of Pine -Strawberry must be dozing or uninterested in the workings of the water district until a problem that affects them comes home to roost. It seems to me that representatives of the citizenry ought to be held to a higher standard of behavior.
Hi, John Lemon. It's always easier to eyeball the fishbowl from the outside and determine how things should be conducted. You're unsatisfied with the published response of Mike Greer (most of us are) and the attitude of the Board angers you? You spread innuendo about Tom Weeks - one of the most respected men in Pine - labeling it as "true or untrue chatter" which is pretty irresponsible in my opinion. You've also questioned the transparency of a Water Board which makes ME question how many meetings you've attended, and what are you comparing it to. Finally, you criticize the whole lot of the citizens of Pine/Strawberry to be held to a "higher standard" of behavior. I guess I am just grateful you're an "outsider".
Have a nice day
Take a deep breath! I for one welcome the expressions of all who follow the PSWID saga. As indicated if the board operated with openness and transparency, the suspicions and rumors that abound would not have started in the first place.
Tom Weeks is a well respected man and he raised his head and unfortunately got caught in the Mike Greer cross fire. I agree with you that we want right over wrong. We all must hope that the truth will prevail.
Sorry, Pam. I was told to get my blood pressure up.....
Jane; You are welcome to look at me as "irresponsible" and be "grateful" that I am an outsider. On the other hand, I am welcome to make observations about "public figures" who are discussed in the press. If I did attend a meeting, I suggest that I will still be an "outsider" and those who disagree with my statements will still disagree with them but have to find a new vocabulary to strike at me. I posted nothing that was untrue or slanderous. I stand by my remark that if the business of the Water Board was conducted in more open and professional manner most or all of the innuendos would be of little import. My remark about being held to a "higher standard" was aimed at public servants. As to the citizens , all of us deserve what we have if we keep quiet and do not participate in government. I am glad that I was able to help regulate your blood pressure.:)
Welcome back. Sorry to hear about your hip. Tough road to travel. As for what John said, I think you misread his intentions. His comment, "I can not state that the chatter is true or not true but if that Board worked more openly perhaps the question would not arise?" is the crux of his thinking, and it exactly echoes what all of us--including you, of course--are saying. We do not need a board which hides things from us, as seems to be happening now.
I have a lot more to say, especially about those legal opinions, but I'm hanged if I'm not going to get out and do something for a change.
Mr. Lemon is right in his observation that people seldom get directly and actively involved until it is their oxe that gets gored. Once Brooke Utilities was sent packing, many up here simply took it for granted that the former problems that went unattended would be rectified and the water situation would improve. To a certain degree, that did in fact happen, and some improvements have been made. The issues that remain appear to all be "people" problems. Whether it is those serving on the board or those who keep them under a magnifying glass. What we end up with is a microcosm of what we are seeing at the state and federal level. Polarization! Each "side" espouses to have all the answers ,as well as all the questions. I recall that one of the issues the current Federal administration ran on in 2008 was "transparency". Americans wanted it then and we want it now, even at the local level. Is that simply too much to ask? I also noticed that that the "transparency" promised turned out to be the least transparent administration since Richard Nixon. Not hard to understand why any elected official at whatever level, taking their cue from and therefore the same approach as set by those who should be the "standard setter".
We are going to be in a much better position to influence such behavior at the local level, a recall perhaps is in order locally, than we will ever be at the state and Federal level. Such is life in America in the 21st century.
I need to correct myself. I listened to the tape and Mr. Dickinson did sign at least some of the checks. I sincerely apologize for the error. - Pam
You're right, people, that Mr. Lemon is correct in his observation, and I'm grouchy. Mr. Hamric, you raise some interesting things to think about. I, personally, feel that the only way this will go "away" is to ask for Mike's resignation AGAIN- try to avoid a recall at all costs and hope that he doesn't force a recall election. The trust is gone. period. While some of you may not appreciate Mr. Lovetro's approach to presiding over the board, I like his brisk style and feel that Gary is not only very fair, but has nothing to hide. I trust the man. With few exceptions, I feel that this is a board we can back. And, I also believe that when Sam is seated in January that alot of this division will disperse.
It is my hope to have unity, and I believe we can achieve it - especially if Mr. Greer removes himself.
Apologies for the grouchiness.
I opened the string, flipped down to the bottom, and saw--the very first thing that struck my eyes--"You're right, people, that Mr. Lemon is correct in his observation, and I'm grouchy." So before I say anything, let me compliment you, Jane, on that very gracious statement.
I know how hard it is to deal with a hip replacement, not from personal experience, thank God, but because the woman in the bed next to Lolly when she had her back operation in 2005, was just out of the operating room and starting down the path to recuperating from her second hip replacement. She was all doped up at the moment, but as we talked because Lolly was still out she laid out for me what she was looking at over the next several weeks. What she told me made me realize how much pain is involved, how bad it can be, how long it can take to get back to normal, how much alone you can feel during the process, how irritating and frustrating it can be not being able to get around for so long, and how tough it is to keep from gobbling down a handful of pills at times. I wish you the very best of luck, and hope the worst is either over for you now, or will be over very soon.
And you don't have to apologize for the grouchiness; not to me anyway.
As to last night, I see a great unity of purpose and belief among the people of Pine and Strawberry on this issue, and I believe that all we have to do is hold the line, insist on the proper legal handling of this matter, along with a full investigation and audit of the activities of PSWID over the past several years, and we will overcome those who are trying to muddy the waters.
I have some questions concerning the legal opinions offered during last night's meeting. I will address them directly to Daniel Torrens in a separate post. It may take a while for me to put it together because I want to make it short and to the point.
Seems you have every right to be a little grouchy, what with the hip issues you are suffering through.
I'm not in favor of having to sholder the expense of a recall effort. There are better places to put that money in these difficult times. As a former Marine, I was taught that a person that posesses integrity will "lead by example". I would hope that Mr. Greer would appreciate that approach and come to recognize that he cannot now be seen as possessing the necessary leadership qualities in light of the poor example he set by misusing the PSWID credit card. It isn't as if he only made one mistake. As I understand it, and I believe he has admitted to, he made that same error repeatidly. That implies a lack trustworthiness that we all want to see in those individuals we elect to serve on the board. I believe Mr. Weeks exemplified that when he came forward with the disclosure of the existence of a credit card and all that surrounded it's existence. Trust, once violated, can rarely be regained. We will see just what Mr. Greer is made of in the near future. It's a small community and it would be a shame for one of our "neighbors" to take a stance against the wishes of the majority here.
How many credit cards does PSWID have? Who authorized them? Did the complete board vote on using credit cards?
Are there two people designated to sign checks or can any two board members sign them? Are the signatures on record at the bank?
Shouldn't bids be taken for gas, and any other major purchases?
Mileage and fuel consumption checked on vehicles.
Seems there are to many loose ends on everything and no one has the answers or won't give them.
Dear Mister Torrens,
I have read both your legal opinions and think them very cleverly written. However, you should understand that ordinary citizens like me, and those who attended the board meeting last night, not being legally trained, are bound to have some questions. I wonder, sir, if you could help us with them?
In each of your opinions concerning conflict of interest you were very careful to bolster what you were saying by quoting from applicable statutes, but when it came to the more serious question of the admitted appropriation of public funds for personal use you said not a word about statutes. Is that because we chose the wrong ones?
For example, were the funds not "public money?" Have we misinterpreted this statute?
"AZ 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."
Have we misunderstood the other statute we thought applied?
"AZ 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:
Without authority of law, appropriates it, or any portion thereof, to his own use, or to the use of another."
If we are wrong, we would like to know. Thanks for your help.
Another question, one which arises from your comments concerning the "implementation of a consequence phase" by the Board for Mister Greer's use of public funds. Is it not true that the State of Arizona retained unto itself the power to set the "consequences" for inappropriate use of public funds when it declared it to be a class four felony? Are you saying that the Board should add additional consequences? Or are you saying that the board has the power to nullify state law? I apologize for our confusion, but we are not legally trained.
Also, you said that, "Absent a case of unabashed fraud, the general recourse is simple reimbursement." I apologize, but we cannot find that statement anywhere in Arizona statutes; could you direct our attention to the right one please? Or if you are commenting on case law, can you explain how the determination can be made of whether or not this case is one of "unabashed fraud" without a decision from the County Attorney's Office, or perhaps even a trial? Which, of course, brings up another question. Has the Board President taken action to report an apparent felony to the appropriate authorities? And if not, why not?
There are lots of other things we do not understand, but I do not wish to burden you with more questions. If you could be so kind as to straighten us out on the few we have posed, the citizenry of Strawberry and Pine would be very grateful.
Thanks in advance for your help.
Tom, I was waiting to read the Torrens document before commenting. I, too, wondered why ARS was apparently referenced in regard to conflict of interest but not in reference to the credit card. You, having read the document have cleared up the mystery.
Is this an example of a "Tricky Dick" moment. I wait to read the document for myself.
You and I, and the rest of the people in Strawberry and Pine, are obviously not experts where legal matters are concerned, are we? Could that be why those two opinions seem to have left so many unanswered questions? Also, since we have been provided with legal opinions originating with Mr. Torrens do you suppose he might be willing to clear up a few puzzling questions for us if we promise not to ask him to make any comment on the guilt or innocence of anyone concerned?
We might, for example, reasonably ask Mr. Torrens why he mentioned that Tom Weeks might have to bear the costs if he is accused of conflict of interest but never mentioned that Mike Greer will certainly have to bear the costs of a trial for misuse of public funds if one occurs? Wouldn't that be material to our concerns?
We might also ask who, exactly, is going to be charged in the unlikely even that a conflict of interest over the purchase of gasoline by CH2M Hill finds itself in court? Would it not be reasonable to think that the blame might fall on the Board itself for failure to exercise due diligence? Could it not even be claimed that is was the duty of those providing legal advice to the Board, but failed to advise the Board that the possibility of conflict of interested existed? Were questions ever asked of our legal advisors? Does board correspondence, or records of Board meetings, contain any such questions? If not, then who has been negligent, the Board or the advisers?
Furthermore, may we ask what is the exact legal relationship between CH2M Hill and PSWID? How is that relationship defined in the contract between PSWID and Hill? If the duties of Hill were clearly defined, but the method of fulfilling those duties was not, then wasn't Hill free to purchase gasoline, or other supplies it needed, from wherever it chose? Is there not a legal separation between Hill and the Board? In the absence of any guidance from the Board, is Hill not legally responsible for its own purchase decisions? Is the Board held responsible for Hill's choice regarding any other type of purchases? Did the Board at any time limit the places where Hill could buy gasoline or anything else? Was a suggestion made that Hill buy gasoline from Tom Weeks? If not, why would Hill not be free to make its own choice based on all the usual reasons for making such a choice--price, location, convenience, operating hours, service, and so on? Couldn't we imagine, even in our ignorance of the law, that a court would find that there was a legal separation between Hill and the Board in a matter like this, unless it could be shown that the Board acted in some way to place pressure on Hill? Or would we be wrong to come to logical conclusion?
(A few more.)
We might also ask how merely hiring Hill in any way affected the dutiful performance of Board members under PSWID District Regulation AXI, Section 7. Conflict of Interest. It says, "No member of the District Board may be interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract entered into by the District Board." How can voting on which management company is hired be construed to be a conflict of interest in regard to the purchase of gasoline? Isn't it true that gasoline would have to be purchased by any management company? So without proof of any guidance or coercion by the Board, how can there have been any conflict of interest?
While we are on the subject of conflict of interest, may we turn our eyes to the purchase of twelve pumps from a company belonging in part to Mike Greer? Even if Mike had left that company, which he had not done at the time, wasn't there was a clear cut conflict of interest in that purchase? If we were going to have a legal opinion on conflict of interest, why did it not cover that?
Extending this discussion to that of the private use of public funds, may we examine these two paragraphs in the opinion bearing on conflict of interest in PSWID, as compared to other local entities?
"First, I do not have a copy of the regulations for either the fire district or school district. It is possible those entities have different language than the district's."
"Second, even if that were the case, we have a state statue that appears directly on point."
Good thinking, excellent in fact, but if it is cogent legal advice on conflict of interest why wasn't that same advice applied concerning private use of public funds? Why do we see no mention of the applicable Arizona State statute on private use of public funds? Why was the discussion limited to a non-existent PSWID policy on same? Surely it cannot be argued that ARS 35-301 and ARS 35-302 are not "directly on point," can it? So why were we treated to a litany of comments concerning only the rules the Board had not written into its regulations? Why was the subject treated as though there were no on-target state law?
Could you please clear up those points for us? Thanks.
As I explained, I was in attendance at the PSWID the other evening. I managed to open my mouth a few times during the evening. I was more upset that Tom Weeks was being accused as being a conflict of interest, when in fact, it was just a camouflage to hide the true meaning Mr. Greer & his mis- use of funds. Also, quite a few times he (Mr. Greer) spoke about the Board and how they dealt with him, etc. The Chair never denied this!
In my opinion, that is a direct violation of Robert's rules and open meeting laws. So, in reality, the fact that they ( PSWID BOARD) discussed this issue, and Mr. Greer was supposedly dealt with, shows they handled this privately, discussed amongst themselves, and violated those laws. In my opinion, their decisions are null & void, and Gas should be purchased at Uncle Tom's, Mr. Greer must immediately resign, and the Board be cited for those open meeting law violations. Not to mention, the Chairman must step down. I applaud Mr. Weeks for bringing this to our attention. I certainly know how it feels to try and right a wrong, and it turn have it thrown back in your face, and then you find yourself personally in a situation that has nothing to do with righting that wrong! Then you have to defend actions that are accusatory that are far from truth! Oh, and what about the Public Records regarding Mr. Greer? What about one listed as issuing a bad check? Anyone on the PSWID Board ever bother to look into that one? I feel we will always know in our hearts what actually transpired, but it will never come to the actual truth. Unfortunately, that is what happens in America today. What a shame for Pine/Strawberry!! Lisa Sieracki, Pine AZ
Does the LLC registered with the Corp. Commission as M3G Millworks LLC have any business dealings with the board of PSWID? Any checks made out to it for work done or products bought?
I failed to mention that the check in question was listed under Mr. Greer's personal public records available in AZ, as were many other records under his name. Sorry for any confusion that may have caused.
I have word from reliable sources that Mike Greer HAS resigned today. I am not sure of what day his resignation will take effect, but it is my understanding the the open board seat will be advertised in the Roundup Starting tomorrow.
Keep your eyes open for NEW developments.
The Board opening is already posted on the PSWID Website.
"Does the LLC registered with the Corp. Commission as M3G Millworks LLC have any business dealings with the board of PSWID? Any checks made out to it for work done or products bought?"
Pat, I do not know.
You brought up a lot of good informative points that could only be brought up by someone who was actually at the meetings. Thanks.
As to conflicts of interest, I think a quiet discussion of that from a purely logical point of view will help to clear the air. I'll do my best.
Hill is a management company. It runs itself; it is not run on an everyday basis by PSWID. Its contract does not state where it should buy its supplies. What Hill does about the supplies it needs is a matter of choice made by the people running the company. They buy what they want, where they want.
It doesn't matter what company is hired to manage the day-to-day activities of PSWID, that company would still have to buy supplies, wouldn't it? So the fact that Tom Weeks is on the PSWID board is immaterial. In other words, as long as neither he nor anyone on the board has told Hill what to do about buying supplies there is no conflict of interest. How could there be?
It would be different if PSWID itself had trucks and the board voted on where those trucks should gas up. In that case, Tom would have to excuse himself from voting, which he would no doubt do. But would Tom have to excuse himself from voting on something as simple as whether or not to hire a management company? Of course not.
To suggest that there would be a conflict of interest in just hiring Hill would mean, if true, that there would be a conflict of interest in hiring ANY company. That would mean that Tom Weeks could not vote on the hiring or non-hiring of any management company. It would men he couldn't vote on having water delivered to us in a crisis by some trucking company. It would mean that he couldn't vote on having pipe delivered by some company. It would mean he couldn't vote on any measure that included hiring any company that didn't do all its work on foot. Since that is obviously rubbish, the suggestion that there was any conflict of interest when Tom Weeks voted for or against hiring Hill is also rubbish. Forget it.
Thanks for the info, Ric. Very helpful.
I hope it is true that Mike Greer has decided to resign. It would make me happy to see that happen. It would be in Mike's best interests. Since I haven't seen any verification yet though, I will hold a comment that I have been waiting to make.
Mr. Greer, Thank you for your service to the PSWID, the effort and hours you put in, and for doing the right thing in resigning and recognizing that your actions have caused you to be a serious distraction moving forward. You have done what is necessary to be accountable for your actions on the board and I hope you will continue to be open and forthcoming with any possible investigations into your misuse of public funds.
Mr. Lovetro, It is time you follow Mr. Greer's example and step up and recognize that you are a distraction to PSWID moving forward. Your actions as Chairman, in my opinion, are reprehensible. You have been more interested in practicing CYOA and in distracting the public than you are in chairing an efficient organization. You have attempted to mislead and misdirect people away from the serious issues of the misuse of district funds by attacking and directing unnecessary charges against a fellow board member. You have practiced underhanded tactics by contact other area boards and encouraging they steer business away from another board member. You have either seriously misspoken or flat out lied about when you knew about certain actions by claiming you did not know about Mr. Greer's illicit credit card charges until after your October 17th meeting with Rebecca and Mr. Torrens, Yet Rebecca stated clearly during the 12/6/12 meeting that she had made you aware of the situation in July, 2012.
Mr. Lovetro, please do the right thing and resign as a member of the board. If you do not resign, residents of Pine WILL begin recall proceedings against you to ensure that your brand of bullying and obfuscation will not be tolerated in the PSWID.
I ask you, what has Mr. Lovetro done that warrants a resignation? I've never been aware of a recall based on popularity. You and everyone else may find his methods to be abrupt and somewhat brash, however, he hasn't done anything wrong. Being aware of a situation that isn't illegal, either, since July means what? That maybe he was giving Mike the opportunity to step forward?
Charging personal items on a public credit card is not ILLEGAL. It IS WRONG, and It's more of a strike at one's character. I am relieved to see that Mike has done the right thing and resigned.
I'd suggest that everyone take a deep breath, allow the dust to settle, Enjoy Christmas, and ease into the new year with new attitudes and hopes that we can FINALLY remove this invisible division in the communities of Pine/Strawberry.
I'm awfully tired of being defensive, offensive without meaning, hearing things that aren't true, snippets of truth contorted into false statements.... and the only way that it will stop is if we just shut up and give PSWID a chance to work with the new members, which will now include two more new ones. Is it really too much to ask to just be silent and observe?
I'm much less grouchy today, but geesh am I ever worn out. Anyone else?
I would suggest you read sections 13-2103 and 13-2105 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, regarding receipt of anything of value obtained by fraudulent use of a credit card; which clearly states "If the value of the property bought or received or attempted to be bought or received is two hundred fifty dollars or more but less than one thousand dollars the offense is a class 6 felony."
Additionally you can look at sections 35-301. which "describes duties and liabilities of custodian of public monies; violations;" as well as sections 35-302, which describes "Public Money".
As to what Mr. Lovetro has done, I feel this is more of a personal opinion as to if one feels he is fit and trustworthy to be a board member. In my opinion, Mr. Lovetro has intentionally mislead in attempting to cover up and distract from the issues surround the Credit Card. In the Meeting of 12/6/12 Mr. Lovetro CLEARLY states that he only became aware of the Credit Card issue AFTER his meeting 10/17/12 with Rebecca the accountant and Mr. Terrens, the Attorney. Yet that same night, not 45 minutes later, Rebecca was speaking in defense of Mr. Greer and states that she found the charges in July and immediately brought the issue to the attention of Mr. Greer and "The Chairman". Is this an intentional lie? Is it a misstatement? At the very least it creates legitimate questions and concerns.
If you don't feel Mr. Lovetro has done anything wrong, then please help clear these questions up. Some of these charges go back to June. Mr. Greer did not make restitution until November. 5 Months. And we still have no receipts for the remainder of the charges that verify they were for district business.
Oh, and Ms. Wilcox, Glad to hear you are feeling better today. Hope the Hip Replacement works well and you have a speedy recovery.
To Mr. John Lemon,
Mr. Lemon, I support what you have said and the questions you have raised and appreciate how you have ASKED questions, rather than simply repeating what you may have heard as "Fact".
To address several of your points -
1 - Tom Weeks, from what I know, did turn over partial ownership and day to day operation of Uncle Tom's and Pine Ice to His Daughter Laura Miranda and her Husband Freddy in 2003. This was several years before Tom became a PSWID board Member.
2 - Pine Ice has a 1" service connection and pays "Commercial" rates for their water supply. During the November meeting, to the best of my knowledge, Laura stated she was not looking to be reimbursed for the lost production and lost revenue from Pine Ice due to the turbidity of the water... she was only looking for reimbursement of her water bills for the two months they had turbidity issues and had to dispose of many tons of product. Their water bill was considerably higher than a residential homeowner would face.
Pat, this is how it goes. Any submitted FOI document is submitted to lawyer Mr. Torrens for his say so.
Articles of organization filed with ACC 2/24/2010 signed by Lovetro and Greer. Lovetro later removed as member 10/27/2010.
Legal public notice posted in Copper Basin News 3/17/2010.
M3G listed as new business member July-August 2010 with Payson Chamber of Commerce. Part of blurb said "Most orders are ready within 7 days, 48 hours if wood is in stock"
IF operated as a business the following applies:- Payson Business Regulation "A separate business license shall be required for each separate business ...." (Chater 110: Business Licensing) Payson Community Development no record of a license application being submitted for M3G Mill Works.
Subsequently the Hat Creek Electric and M3G Mill Works location closed, and building was vacated.
Thank you for your information.
Didn't understand all of it but no problem.
Pat, no business license issued to M3G Mill Works.
The "Opinion Letter" is now posted at pswid.org. I read it and in respect to the credit card, the PSWID attorney talked to "a city attorney." Who is this guy whose opinion was sought. Why didn't the PSWID attorney cite law. Why wasn't ARS discussed? I don't think very much of the letter. Read it for yourself. I wonder how much this letter cost the taxpayers of PSWID? Why is this letter "privileged" and only to be released by PSWID? Aren't the taxpayers paying for it and therefore don't we have a right to see it?
They don't need a Payson business license to work in Pine.
Time to drop this one I think.
Pam, my understanding is that the business you're referring to is defunct and didn't really get off the ground, It's a non entity now. I don't know for a fact, but when a business closes - just stops being a business- I don't believe there is any paper work required to be filed stating they've stopped. I agree with Pat that perhaps it's time to put this to rest.
Let's not forget that this board has accomplished so much, and have worked incredibly hard on our behalf. And, like it or not, we ARE better off than we were with Brooke Utilities. Brooke was taking YOUR money, and spending it like crazy somewhere else. And THAT was acceptable?
It takes a certain type of individual to run for a seat on that board. Someone that is dedicated to continue the improving of the water company, and someone without personal political agenda or gain. Furthermore we need people with leadership qualities and oh - brains, that always helps. I have stated previously, and at the risk of sounding redundant, I will ask you all to please be patient. Can we please give this a rest until the new board has had an opportunity to meet and gel, and get acquainted?
With Mike's resignation, and Tom Weeks stating he will no longer enter into contractual agreements for gas purchases - I would think that a resolution has been found. Am I missing something?
Have a great day.
Jane, I am sorry, but I could not disagree with you more.
Saying that we should overlook a little bad because of all the good that has been done is like saying "Overall, Mrs. Lincoln really enjoyed her evening and the play, except for that one part..."
Do you really believe we have individuals on the board without any personal political agendas? REALLY? I think it is fairly obvious we have individual(s) on the board that have obvious personal agendas... too bad it is not a PSWID agenda.
And Jane, how can Tom Weeks no longer enter into contractual agreements to sell gas, when there have never been any contracts to purchase gas?
Acting morally and ethically does not take an attorney on paid retainer. Acting Morally and Ethically is not something you accept a 75% success rate at.
Why did Mr. Lovetro contact the school board and tell them they might want to avoid doing business with Uncle Tom's Texaco because it might be a conflict of interest? Is that a personal agenda? What business did a PSWID Water Board Member have to contact the school board?
Why have we still not seen receipts for the remainder of the $9000.00+ in purchases Mr. Greer Made?
Why does Mr. Greer say he brought the Credit Card charges to the attention of the district accountant, and yet the district accountant says she brought the charges to Mr. Greers attention?
Why has Mr. Lovetro repeatedly stated he only knew about the Credit Card issues AFTER his October 17th meeting to discuss the conflict of interest issue... Yet Rebecca, the district accountant, clearly stated she brought the issue to the attention of Mr. Greer and Mr. Lovetro in July?
Why do the legal reports presented at the meeting of 12/6/12 vary in that Arizona Revised Statutes are quoted in the opinion against the conflict of interest regarding Uncle Tom's Quikstop... Yet the relevant Arizona Revised Statutes are not mentioned in the presented opinion about Mr. Greers misuse of PUBLIC FUNDS? The Statues I cited above are clear... Why are they not mentioned?
That you choose to overlook these issues and questions is your decision. I cannot overlook them and I will not overlook them.
The business was in Payson at 1011 S. Goodfellow. Like I said IF they started the business and produced product they needed a business license first, like everyone else.
I feel it is necessary from me as the accountant of PSWID to make some comments on this blog as it seems to be getting way out of wack regarding comments on Gary Lovetro.
Fact: The Board Chairman Gary Lovetro was informed by me the accounting on October 19, 2012 of the misuse of Credit Card by Mike Greer. I waited until October 2012 to inform Gary because I thought Mike Greer would resolve the issue and I would not need to get any other involved in the situation. When the first statement arrive in July 2012 Mike and myself the accountant were the only ones involved. When the second statement arrived in August 2012 I waited until Gary returned from vacation in October to inform him of the issue. He immediately in October took the card from Mike and demanded resitution. Gary would have done the same thing in July if he was aware of the issue at that time.
Regarding the Gas issues and it being a Tit for Tat situation, this statement is the farthest thing from the truth. The gas issue was brought to my attention in September 2011 and again in September 2012 by the company appointed auditors. This issue has been an ongoing issue for several months and was being resolved via PSWID's attorn and company appointed auditors. It has nothing whatsever to do with the MIke Greer incident.
The Board Chairman has done nothing wrong or inapprropriate in regards to both these isuses. If anything he did the most responsible thing that needed to be done in both issues, having the company appointed attorney give an unbiased and legal professional opinion in regards to both issues.
The Payson Round up continues to tell only one side of the story, Why can't we all decide to look and listen to all the facts before making up our minds. Lets give PSWID board and its members some support and move forward and focus on what is really important here.WATER. Not bashing board members against each other or making claims of misconduct when there has been non. WATER is important!!
Wow! So many comments I don't even know where to start! Looks like this issue means a lot to people.
"Mr. Greer, Thank you for your service to the PSWID, the effort and hours you put in, and for doing the right thing in resigning and recognizing that your actions have caused you to be a serious distraction moving forward. You have done what is necessary to be accountable for your actions on the board and I hope you will continue to be open and forthcoming with any possible investigations into your misuse of public funds."
Ric, I echo your thoughts.
"Mr. Lovetro, It is time you follow Mr. Greer's example and step up and recognize that you are a distraction to PSWID moving forward."
And, sadly, I echo that thought too. Over the past two years we have seen far too much happening in PSWID that has been high-handed and confrontational. Add to that the handling of this latest incident and I see no way that Gary any longer enjoys the support of the people who elected him. That being the case, everyone will be best served if he avoids the need for a recall election, which at this point in time appears to be a given.
"Charging personal items on a public credit card is not ILLEGAL. It IS WRONG, and It's more of a strike at one's character. I am relieved to see that Mike has done the right thing and resigned."
You and I have disagreed on a couple of things, although rather mildly, but we always disagreed on an opinion. This time, though, you have somehow or other been led astray regarding what poor Mike did. It not only is illegal; it is a serious crime.
Please read the Arizona statute regarding the use of public funds. It will leave no doubt in your mind.
"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:
That could not be more clear. If a public officer appropriates public funds to his own use he is "guilty of a class 4 felony."
Jane, a class 4 felony is no joke. You don't get a slap on the wrist for it. Even if it is your first offense, and even if you have no priors, and even if there are mitigating circumstances such as restitution, the absolute minimum sentence is a year in prison. If there aggravating circumstances, such as a repetition of the misuse or an attempt to cover up what is going on, the mandatory minimum sentence can run up to three and half years. That is no joke, and it certainly means that what poor Mike did is illegal. The less we talk about it, the better off Mike is.
"And Jane, how can Tom Weeks no longer enter into contractual agreements to sell gas, when there have never been any contracts to purchase gas?"
I was going to ask that, but since Ric did I won't bother. Jane, please go back and read the part of my last post that starts with, "Hill is a management company. It runs itself; it is not run on an everyday basis by PSWID. Its contract does not state where it should buy its supplies." I think it's a fairly decent summary of the relationship between Hill and PSWID.
As to waiting? No! Absolutely not! The people of Pine and Strawberry have waited long enough. This issue--namely whether we will be represented by people who echo the views of the people who elected them--has waited long enough.
"Fact: The Board Chairman Gary Lovetro was informed by me the accounting on October 19, 2012 of the misuse of Credit Card by Mike Greer. I waited until October 2012 to inform Gary because I thought Mike Greer would resolve the issue and I would not need to get any other involved in the situation."
I know you are trying to help. Thank you very much. Facts are always welcome.
I've got to tell you, though, that your comments worry me, not in what they say about Mike or Gary, but in that you are making public statements about how you were involved in a felony offense--what you did, or did not do, and when.
Those of us who are not lawyers sometimes get ourselves into trouble without realizing what we are doing. May I politely offer some very well meant advice? Please speak with an attorney before you make any more statements regarding on what date you knew that public funds had been misused, what you did when you learned it, when you reported what you knew, and to whom. If your lawyer tells you that you are safe to do it, please come back on the forum and add as many new facts as you wish. We'd love to hear them. And thanks again.
Tom, you are right the less said about Greer, the better for him and for the community. Let's get going with solving water problems.
However, there is one bit of messy business left, and that business is Lovetro who in my opinion must go. Unfortunately for everyone he has a way of behaving in a confrontational manner and way. This type of behavior is not good in a leadership position on a governmental board that has to deal with the public. For the good of the community, I hope he will step aside so that we can let the dust settle and get to the business of solving the problems we bought when we bought some deep wells. We need to clear up the sand mess.
By the way all this hallobaloo about personalities. Did anyone take the time to read the attorney's letters. Any opinions? Tom, you already gave yours.
Please no more about Greer, he has resigned.
Tom, I did not intend to use the word "contractual" - my bad, but I can't edit it. Please consider it edited - and strike the word "contractual". Tom Weeks agreed not to sell gas. There, that's what I meant to say.
I honestly don't feel that Gary has committed any crime, no matter how much you all want him to, he hasn't. The attorney didn't think so, but evidently this attorney isn't doing a good job, either. Not liking someone is NOT a reason for a recall. I am trying to throw out the idea here that we can all get along and perhaps give peace a chance, as well as a new board, but I see that it is met with equal and opposite resistance.
Happy holidays to you all.
Jane, I hope this cold weather is not playing havoc with your hip recovery. Stay warm and. enjoy the holidays.
I have read the Auditors report and can not find in there where it says anything about conflict of interest with fuel purchase. The only thing I saw was the generator contract that was awarded to a board member. But this is PSWID's Audit NOT the the company that was hired to manage the district. So who cares where CH2MHill purchases their fuel?? Does this mean that PSWID tells CH2MHill where they can and can not spend their money that is paid to them? Just asking for clarification.
I continue to follow the epic drama with interest. I think that Mr. Hawthorne made several remarks/questions that make a lot of sense to me. Folks, you need to step back a pace or two and look at things. Some very simple ethical positions and some very clear Policy revisions, all based on "common sense" are needed. 1. To use someone a credit card that does not belong to you is either stupid, wrong or both. 2. A common sense and usual Policy regarding purchases not done by bidding is to spread the purchases and avoid any potential conflicts of interest. 3. Mr. Hawthorne is wise when he discussed moral principals. There is no goal to aim for a "fairly good". All of us make errors, but some are egregious and forgiveness does not go beyond a certain point. Finally, water is the issue, as was said. However, until the Board correctly aligns itself the water-related issues will continue to be the casualty. Similar to the physicians creed ("First do no harm.") have a proper Board and it is likely that proper decisions will be made. Just one person's opinion....
Well said John.
I can only hope that the good people of Whispering Pines have been following the saga of the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District. Perhaps they can learn from their mistakes and avoid the drama that has been almost constant since the inception of the PSWID. And for those of you wanting to serve on a water or fire district board, always remember, "No good deed goes unpunished"!
You have a fund of wisdom which I admire every time you post! You always seem to see things from a simple, open, objective point of view. Thanks.
Jessica, of course, makes the correct point regarding gasoline purchases. Hill is a separate entity; it not part of PSWID. So Hill buys its supplies where it wants to buy them. Any suggestion by PSWID, either about buying or not buying gas in any particular place is inappropriate.
I am sincerely happy to see that some people are posting calls for a move away from anger, a move toward common sense and good will. That is exactly what this string is about. PSWID ought to be about water, not about anger, conflict, and recrimination. There is, however, a major roadblock on that road and we have no choice at this point in time but to remove it. Unless we do that the anger will not go away. Why? Come on, folks, you know why, but I'll say it anyway: The anger originates in a board president with the wrong attitude. Too bad. Very hard to say. But true.
I'll put up a second post here. I will try to say what needs to said is a way that is as unemotional and objective as I can possibly make it. Please read it and consider it. I honestly believe you will agree that the only road to peace in PSWID is a change in who is running the board.
Have you been to a PSWID board meeting lately? If you have you already know what I am going to say. No one dares to ask a question. Not even board members. Asking a question may get your head ripped off. That is wrong.
When a person runs for a public office he has to accept the fact that there will be times when the people who elected him will ask questions. It may seem ungrateful that people ask why their money is being spent in some way or other. It may make you feel that you are not trusted. It may irritate you. But you have to be able to sit back and answer those questions honestly, openly, and without without attacking people for asking them.
That, I am afraid, is a talent that our board president seems to lack. He may be very good at something else, but in public relations he is a one man disaster, God bless him. He has to go or we will never have peace and quiet in the running of PSWID.
Look at a couple of reasonable questions that were asked about a close to $90,000 expenditure, questions that drew angry responses, and have NEVER been answered.
Consider the money spent on Ray's well back when we were deciding whether or not to buy it. Now $90,000 is not pocket change to people in these two small mountain villages, so when it was spent to repair and improve a private well in what appeared to be the improper use of public funds almost everyone asked the same two questions: How can we legally do that? And why would we want to spend money to raise the value of something we are going to buy?
What happened when those questions were asked? Did we get an explanation? Was it explained how it was legal? Maybe there was a written contract that made it legal. Were we told about it? No. Maybe there an a simple explanation why we weren't going to have to pay more for the well because we ourselves fixed it. Was that explained to us? No. We have never heard a single word from our board president about either point.
Let's assume that everything was perfectly legal and aboveboard. How much time and effort would it have taken to answer those questions? Why were we treated to angry tirades one minute and stonewalling the next? Sadly, it appears that the answer is a leadership style that does not fit public office.
People received the same treatment when they asked about the purchase of a dozen pumps and generators, People wanted to know why they weren't put out for public bid. Hey! If there were good, honest, sensible reasons for doing it, why in the world not just explain instead of taking peoples' heads off?
Let's stop right there. The point of this post is not to criticize our board president. It is to show that his leadership style does not fit public office. While those of us who are calling for peace have the right idea, but the way to achieve it is to remove the cause of the conflict, not to don blindfolds and gags and pretend that everything is sweetness and light.
I thought the board had to vote on issues and have a majority vote for something to be done.
Seems everyone does thier own thing and discusses it later, maybe at an open meeting or at the nearest coffee shop.
Do they have regular scheduled meetings with agendas posted 24 hrs. ahead of time so the public knows what is really going on? Don't think so, my opinion.
First, Lovetro was not elected by the public. He was elected by the PSWID Board to fill an empty position. In other words he got his seat on the PSWID Board in much the same way the replacement for Greer will get a seat. The first time he would have had to have faced the public for election was last November. However, since no one ran against him, he was automatically given a second term.
Second, I do not think Lovetro has done anything illegal. However, I do believe that he has led PSWID in a direction that many question.
PSWID is in debt in the amount of $7 million. This debt was largely created by the water company purchase, the purchase of two deep wells and and the drilling of two more deep wells. While the money spent to purchase the water companies was a necessary expenditure, many question the purchase of two deep wells and the well drilling prior to any type of master plan. Many question the price paid for the two deep wells. One well was purchased for considerably more than the one known appraisal and as far as I know the other was purchased without an appraisal. Both of these wells were known to have sand problems prior to the purchase. Before figuring out what to do about the known sand problem, PSWID drilled two more wells. As I understand it the third deep well was drilled for the purpose of supplying water to Strawberry. Why PSWID would drill in Pine for Strawberry water is truly hard to understand. Why would you want to take on the electrical expense of pumping water to Strawberry without investigating if water is available in Strawberry. While I believe some on the PSWID Board continue to believe that PSWID does not have a turbidity problem, the picture in the Payson Roundup has many believing that turbity is a serious problem.
Oh yes, those two deep wells that were drilled were drilled on land that PSWID did not realize it owned until after the purchase of the MRW. Now don't you think it was the responsbility of PSWID to know and understand what it had purchased from Brookes before it started to put us further in debt? Would a master plan prior to the purchase of the two deep wells saved us the trouble of purchasing two wells with known sand problems?
We have higher water rates and a PSWID property tax and a rather large debt. I fear that PSWID water users might soon be facing an additional water rate increase.
Also, I have some questions--Why does he have an attorney present at all PSWID Board meetings? What is the purpose of the attorney's presence?
Jane, you are right. Lovetro has not done anything illegal. However, many question the direction his leadership has taken. Maybe as the title of this string suggests, it's time for a new PSWID beginning.
All the way back on 28 April 2012 I started a new string titled. "My feelings on PSWID public relations."
I had already put up a string saying that I thought the service we were getting from the people in the office was as good as it gets, that I applauded them for doing so well, that it wouldn't hurt a thing if we let them know that, and that if there were any conflicts at board meetings I hoped they would not bounce back on our clerical and maintenance people.
In the new string I tried to quiet the furor about "meeting laws," and cool tempers regarding a question that had once again arisen, namely the purchase of the Milk Ranch Well.
Here's what I had to say about meeting laws:
"I know nothing about meeting laws, or how PSWID has set up its meeting schedule, but I would suppose there could be any number of reasons for canceling one."
And about the Milk Ranch Well.
"Do I personally think that anything underhanded took place? Are you kidding? Ray Pugel and Robert Randall were involved in that well. I know, and like, Ray, and I would trust Robert with my life!"
I think that's a rather powerful endorsement.
I added this piece of well-meant advice:
"'So please, board members, just take a moment out and explain.'
'Well, look. It happened like this...'
'We did this, and that, because....'
'Here's how the numbers played out, and why....'
See? Done. Answered. Over with!"
I pointed out something that might have been overlooked by the board president.
"Questions do not have to be answered during board meetings where time is tight. They could be answered in an occasional bulletin. Or any way the board wants to do it."
I politely asked:
"Board members, how can we cheer you on if you don't give us the ammunition to do it?"
I had plans of meeting with Ray Pugel and Gary Lovetro to ask them what I could on this forum to smooth the relationship between the board and the townspeople. Those meetings never occurred because in the absence of answers to the questions which were being asked the anger on the forum got worse instead of better, and I could see that I was shoveling against the tide; people were only getting angrier instead of cooling off. So I finally gave up, deciding I could do nothing more to help. I stop posting to the string and made this final comment concerning board conflict:
"To tell you the truth, I'm tired of the whole subject. I had hopes that maybe something could be done to eliminate some of the anger I've seen. And for all I know maybe someone is thinking about doing something about it. From where I sit, all I can do is wait and hope."
That goes double at the moment, and I think it reflects the thinking of the people up here. We don't understand why simple water board meetings always have to be angry, we are sick and tired of the subject of board conflict, we want no more of it, we hope someone is doing something about it, and we are waiting for it to happen.
"The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it,
ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is."
Well. According to the Roundup today (Friday), some folks at the State level also find the doings by the water Board to be of interest. It appears that the State finds the same actions as I do to be questionable and perhaps worse. I really hope that the results of the State inquiry will lead to the resolution of many questions. Further, I hope that the Board principals will grow in wisdom. As I posted earlier, the water issues will never be solved so long as the distractions water down the real issues (pun intended).
In response to this statement "We don't understand why simple water board meetings always have to be angry, we are sick and tired of the subject of board conflict, we want no more of it, we hope someone is doing something about it, and we are waiting for it to happen."
Perhaps now that Mr. Shwalm is on the board, some of the "hostilities" will moderate. I viewed a lot of this as "sour grapes" although I do appreciate someone "minding the store" when it comes to elected officials. Not much different than the results of the last Federal election. The losing side is going to continue to hold the winning side's feet to the fire, and those on the winning side are going to "circle the wagons" in their own defense. The parallels between these two situations is just too plain. The "winners" sense some sort of mandate to do whatever they feel is necessary to forward the agenda they were elected to put in place. The opposition is not going quietly into the night. Accusations, unfounded or not, once out there simply poison the well and little is going to get accomplished for the good of the citizens.
I, like you and many others, are simply "waiting for it to happen". Can't believe how much , every day circumstances, continue to reinforce my total pessimism about the future.
In case anyone is wondering, the power went out just as I was about to post on this string. It came back on a while back, but I was busy taking care of Lolly.
I am very happy that someone is finally looking at this mess. I don't get disturbed by every little thing that goes wrong, but this bad smelling mess has gone on for so long, and has become so flagrant, that I was beginning to wonder how high the corruption went. I hope the inquiry is broad and deep, and that it goes all the way back to the beginning of this mess. We need answers that clear the air and let publicly spirited people work on getting a clean, reliable water supply instead of being treated to Machiavelli And Company every time the board meets.
I know what you are feeling. This nation is founded on strong, basic principles. I do not side with people who say that there is no need to add or amend laws because the Constitution says it all, but I want to see the laws changed, not the Constitution. The changes in technology that have occurred since we became a nation have left us with no choice but to make laws showing how our principles apply to "modern" life. It has happening during almost every presidency. But those laws should show HOW we apply our principles to changing times NOT how we re-think those principles, which should not change one whit. What is right is right; it doesn't make any difference whether we are in 1776, 1876, 1976, 2076, or 2776. Too many times we have allowed someone to change the rules, instead of applying the rules to new times.
THAT'S what gives me--you too, I think--a bad feeling. And THAT'S what we have to fight.
As for PSWID, as soon as the recall was over (I was on the drill-the-K-2 side of the issue) I said that we had had our chance to vote, we had lost, and it was time to get the program moving. Hey! That's the way democracy is supposed to work, isn't it?
But the crap that has gone on since then is hard to believe. I almost came unglued when we fired a company that had been giving us--and other communities up here--excellent advice for decades. To me, firing a company because it turned in an evaluation that wasn't what the board wanted to hear was the last straw.
And you're right, Ron. You pile all this local stuff on top of what we are seeing around the nation and it does not look good for this country. There are too many things going on behind closed doors, too many things where someone has his hand in the public pocket, too many things where people are saying one thing and doing another.
What do we do? I don't know. All I know is that what we hear from the state had better not sound like some kind of whitewash job.
My husband and I just saw the movie, "Lincoln" which deals with the passage of the 13th amendment. If depictions in the movie are true, things have not changed much since Lincoln's time.
That could be true. In fact, in a way it almost has to be. I think what makes things seem so much worse today is that we hear about everything that happens, no matter where it is, and it is possible for some people to have far reaching influence, not mention being able to put the schemes they hatch into action in just a few days, or even a few hours. There must have been evil people as far back as who-know-when.
There were, thank God, and are, good people to.
You know what we need (I'll bet Ron will agree with this)? Back in the Air Force we used to be very concerned about fuel leaks because of the volatility of some of the fuels we used, but it is not always to be certain what, if anything, has been leaking. It was also very important to declare tanks clear if they had to be worked on. So there was a neat little gadget called a "sniff tester" (not its official name, just what we called it). You could insert it into a space and find out just what was what.
I'd like to have something like that. Something we could hold over someone's head to find out (a) Is he telling the truth? and (b) Should we shoot him now or give him a chance to straighten up?
When I think of all the straight shooters I have known in my life I keep wondering how all the rats managed to get out of the sewers? And how they get put in charge of so many things?
Tom, I just have to respond one last time and then I will take an exit. You really think Gary should be removed from his office because you don't like his attitude? He's done nothing illegal or wrong, yet you don't like his attitude? It would appear that you are holding some kind of a personal grudge against Gary because you couldn't mutually agree on a meeting time, or you got too busy, or he got too busy or something. But to insist that a man stop doing a job that he is trying his best to do because you don't like his attitude is like ME saying, "Obama is arrogant, let's impeach him and find someone more likeable"
You're right, Bernice; Gary was not elected. And Sam Schwalm wasn't elected either, but this doesn't mean that he won't do a good job for us, does it? Like I said earlier, you may not like the method with which someone conducts a business meeting, and Gary is a very "cut to the chase let's not waste time kind of guy". He reminds me a lot of my father's style. You all probably would not have liked him either. Maybe this is how I like meetings conducted, or have been accustomed to meetings being conducted?
You want to know where the frustration and mild anger came from? You all KNOW where it came from. PETTY LITTLE NIT PICKY BS. That will HOPEFULLY STOP once and for all for the GOOD of all.
So, I now choose to leave this, and focus on the business at hand: healing and praying for all lost souls, especially those that are in deep grief now, and trying in this God Forsaken society to make rhyme and reason out of things that DON'T.
God bless, and Happy Holidays,
Good Lord! Have you read the records of PSWID meetings? Have you ever served on any kind of public board?
The president of the board of a public entity is there to serve the people who put him there, not to shout at them. He is there to enable discussions, not to stifle them. He is there to answer questions, not to stonewall. He is there to set agendas that cover matters of public concern, not to ignore those concerns or handle them in closed sessions. He is there to ensure that nothing like the breaking of a large purchase down into smaller ones to avoid a public bid ever occurs, not to help a buddy get the contract. He is there to immediately inform the public of any wrongdoing, not to go ballistic when another board member discovers it and reports it. He is there to ensure that the people who are paying for all this have all the facts about the quality of the product they are buying, not a few selected facts that serve outside interests. In short, he is there to serve the public, not to dictate to the public.
We do not need a petty tyrant to "run" our water board; it is supposed to run itself. The board president has no more decision making authority than any other board member. Each member has a single vote. The board president is not the CEO of Pine and Strawberry. He does not own PSWID. His sole function beyond discussion and voting is to enable matters to proceed smoothly and efficiently by setting an agenda that will cover issues and questions so they can be discussed and resolved.
The instant that the use of public funds for private use was reported to him the board president had a duty to report that fact to the authorities. The law us clear. A class 4 felony had occured. Failure to report it is not only wrong, it could very well be seen as obstruction of justice, and treated as such.
Ask yourself this, Jane. If someone knew that a person had taken your credit card and used it without your knowledge of permission, how would you feel if that person did not tell you about it? Would you be saying that he had "...done nothing illegal or wrong?" Or would you be calling the police?
There is no question whether or not something "wrong" has been done. the only question at this point in time is whether or not it rises to the level of aiding and abetting, and whether or not charges will be filed. And you have no idea how sad that makes me feel.
I'll put up a second post address your completely wrong ideas about why I quit trying to pour oil on troubled waters.
I had started a string whose purpose was to smooth feelings re PSWID.
I also sent an e-mail to the office manager. Here it is:
If you take a look at the Roundup web site you'll find at least one place in the world where there is a voice supporting PSWID: Mine. On the I'm Listening forum which I run for the Roundup. I am trying to drum up support for the board, but believe me, it is not an easy job. Too many people can't see beyond their noses. They seem to have forgotten how different the running of the water companies was when Brooke Utilities would pump water uphill to Strawberry, truck in water to replace it, and charge the rate-payers an outrageous amount for water hauling.
Please tell the board that I will do what I can to foster more support in future, and that I realize that it is very hard to keep on working so hard in the face of so many different waves of negativity on so many different subjects.
Nevertheless, please keep up the good work. We need you.
I received this reply from Danny.
Thank you very much Sir….We don’t get many nice email’s….And I am happy that your communications with our staff was pleasant.
You have no idea how sad that reply made me feel. No idea at all.
I then received an e-mail from Gary.
I too would like to thank you for you kind words to the District Staff. I do appreciate your support of the District. I have read you Blog and all you posts re the PSWID. I would like to talk to you and discuss some things with you that you do not know so you may continue to provide accurate information.
Please email me and let me know if we may get together for a short time and have a conversation.
I was saddened by Danny's answer: "We don't get many nice e-mails." That is as wrong as it gets. I'm sure that people are taking it out on the office staff because of false perceptions regarding issues.
I put another comment up on the blog today telling people what a pleasure it is to deal with your office staff. My attitude is simple: When people do something nice they should hear about it.
I'd like nothing better than meeting you and having a chance to talk. There is no better way to quell rumor, innuendo, and complaints than by putting a few pertinent facts on the table. And let me assure you that anything you mention that you want kept off the record will stay there.
I'm a 24/7 caregiver for my beloved wife of 50 years, so my time out of the house is very restricted. However, just by chance an appointment that I had for Thursday afternoon this week has been canceled. I would be available at any time between--say--11:30 and 3:00. If that fits your schedule just let me know where and when and I'll be there.
Gary responded that he was going fishing but he actually had time right that day, which was perfect. Here's his short second note.
Tom I failed to mention that I have some time this afternoon also
I had already worked out an open arrangement to talk to Ray and was hoping to see Gary that day and Ray before the week was out.
Here's Ray's e-mail.
It would be a pleasure to meet with you. My cell phone number is 978.3282. Give me a call to be sure I am in the office.
I was getting ready to go see Gary when something happened. I opened an e-mail with the record of the last PSWID. I saw i was in over my head and that there was no way to smooth anyone's feelings. So as I said in a post a couple of days ago I just plain quit.
Please do not misconstrue what I say to mean something else. Thanks.
By the way, here's the string I had put up back then in January:
An unwilling comment on the current flack at PSWID
Because I live in Pine and have offered my opinion on so many other water matters in what is now my home town, I guess I'm stuck with offering an opinion on the current flack at PSWID over the appearance of a conflict of interest in the granting of some contracts.
So here goes....
Is there an appearance of impropriety in the granting of those contracts. Sure there is.
Why? Simple as a, b, c.
a. Work which could have been done under a single contract with the usual sealed, competitive bids was broken up into smaller bids which do not require the same handling. That has the "appearance" of going around state law.
b. All thirteen of the smaller contracts were won by a company which once belonged to one of the board members. That has the "appearance" of a conflict of interest.
c. The claim has been made that the company had already been sold, but the name of the board member was still on file at the ACC as the owner after the contracts were awarded. That too has the "appearance" of a conflict of interest.
Unfortunately, we have a classic situation which generates suspicion of political corruption, as defined by WIKI: "...the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain."
How does it generate suspicion? This time it's as simple as a--we don't even need b or c.
a. Here again, straight out of WIKI, not out of me, is an example of political corruption:
"For example, suppose that a politician is in charge of choosing how to spend some public funds. He can give a contract to a company that is not the best bidder, or allocate more than they deserve. In this case, the company benefits, and in exchange for betraying the public, the official receives a kickback payment...." And so on, and so on.
So, what has happened as a result of all this?
The comment has been made that the awarding of the contracts is "suspicious."
What do we need now?
Sanity. Appearances and suspicions mean nothing until there has been a fair and objective review.
Once again my comment is simple--a, b, c.
a. Let's thank Sam Schwalm and Pam Mason for bringing this matter to our attention. As members of a group which has the best interests of the town at heart, they certainly could not have just overlooked what they found.
b. Let's thank Mike Greer for all the work he has done as an unpaid, hard working, volunteer board member, and treat him with the respect he deserves.
c. Let's calmly and quietly look into the matter, resolve it, and allow PSWID to get on with the good work it is doing.
And yes, I know it's a lot easier to say that than to do it, but let's just suck it up and do it!
That's the end of my one and only post on the string.
As you can see, I look upon myself at that time as someone working very hard to be a peacemaker, but I opted out when the lid blew off. And by and large I stayed out. There were a hundred opportunities to respond to comments made on one string or another, but I didn't do it. I was hoping the matter would be looked at, cleared up, and over with. Didn't happen. Only got worse. People could not get answers so they got all riled up. I didn't make that happen. It came from elsewhere.
What do I want now? The state makes the laws. Let the state see if anything wrong has occurred. Not my job. The state set up a system of recall too. We need to use it, clear the air, and move on.
My greatest wish? That none of this had ever happened. I hate this kind of crap! Someone always gets hurt. I am not into hurting people.
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