Hiring Of Attorney Questioned By Resigning Board Member

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Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District board member Barbara Hall's resignation on May 1 revolves around the new board's hiring of John Gliege as legal counsel.

Hall said new board members decided to hire Gliege even before they took their seats on March 27, and that Bill Haney (now chairman) acted unethically when he solicited answers from Gliege to questions submitted by a resident to the district's Web site, PSWID.org, about water issues.

Hall says Haney acted without authority because he was secretary at the time and not chairman.

She said concerns about other actions during public meetings and in executive sessions convinced her the new board decided before they first met on March 27 to hire Gliege as the district's legal counsel, forcing her to resign.

"I am not saying the new board has done anything illegal, but I think they are going down a certain path and I don't want to be pulled down it with them," she said.

Hall's primary concern was about Haney's actions before the four new board members, Treasurer Michael Greer, Vice-Chair Terry Schleizer, member Ron Calderon and Secretary Richard Dickinson, were sworn in.

Hall said a couple of days before being elected by the new board as chairman, then-secretary Haney, in her opinion, overstepped his rights by conferring with Gliege.

She said that in her opinion, even if it wasn't illegal, Haney should not have asked Gliege for answers to questions that she thinks should have been asked of the old board's legal counsel, William Sullivan. Sullivan submitted his resignation within days after the March 11 recall, Haney said.

"I don't know if there was anything illegal about it, but in my mind I think it may have been, and if not, certainly it was unethical," Hall said.

"I don't understand how he felt he had the right to get outside advice from someone like Mr. Gliege who was already known to be so controversial," she said.

Haney said there were only two situations involving Gliege that he is aware of that Hall could be referring to.

The first was when he was asked by Ray Pugel to give an opinion on the cost of connecting his Milk Ranch Well to the district's water system.

"I asked Gliege to put the letter (Haney's opinion to Pugel) into legal format for me and that was all, there was no contractual obligation," said Haney.

The second was an e-mail for personal advice Haney sent asking if Gliege felt he had a conflict of interest in his intervention on Pugel's behalf with the ACC. Haney said the e-mail to Gliege was in response to one of the questions the resident had submitted. He said Gliege told him there was no conflict of interest and advised him to forward that opinion to board members.

Hall said the other concern she had regarding Gliege was that Haney invited him to the March 27 meeting while Hall was acting chairman.

"I'm not sure about the law regarding this, but I believe only the chairman has the authority to invite someone to speak at a meeting who is not on the agenda," said Hall.

Haney denied inviting Gliege.

"I don't know if he was invited by someone else or not, but I did not invite Mr. Gliege to the March 27 meeting," said Haney.

Haney also addressed Hall's opinion that the new board predetermined who they would hire as legal counsel.

"We (the new board) were all comfortable with Mr. Gliege, everyone liked him, but as far as deciding before the March 27 meeting that he would be the person we hired, I don't think so," he said.

Arizona Corporation Commission open meeting representative, Marjorie Becklund, said that in her unofficial opinion she didn't see any impropriety on Haney's part, but referred the Roundup to the Arizona Attorney General's Office, which declined comment.

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