In one of the more bizarre twists to occur in the cantankerous water war between Brooke Utilities President Bob Hardcastle and the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District, Hardcastle has requested a meeting with no lawyers present.
The request seems odd because the Brooke Utilities president has for more than a year refused to meet and discuss PSWID possibly purchasing the Pine and Strawberry water companies from Brooke Utilities.
Hardcastle told the Roundup in a interview held in January that he refused to negotiate with PSWID because the district had no money to purchase the two small-town water companies.
Hardcastle would not comment on why he asked for the upcoming meeting.
The proposed meeting was announced during a June 20 PSWID board meeting.
Board members agreed to meet with Hardcastle at a time and place to be announced soon.
It was emphasized that no attorneys or consultants attend, it must be a public meeting and that any negotiations take place in executive session.
While the two sides now agree to apparently discuss the purchase, the legal battle goes on in Division I of Yavapai Superior Court where Judge David L. Mackey has been assigned the civil case.
On June 15, PSWID board attorney John Gliege filed a response to Brooke’s June 1 motion to impose sanctions on PSWID for its failure to comply with a Gila County court order for the board to deposit a $3.2 million bond by May 22. The bond would have allowed PSWID to immediately take over the two water systems.
However, the board did not post the bond, instead saying Hardcastle had not lived up to his part of the deal and Compass Bank had withdrawn its offer until several issues had been settled.
In November 2008, the PSWID board filed its original condemnation suit to gain control of the Pine and Strawberry water companies. About four months later, the board signed a stipulated agreement to post the immediate possession bond.
The legal battle has continued all spring and summer with seemingly not much headway in the district’s effort to assume control of Pine and Strawberry water.
In Gliege’s June 15 response to Hardcastle’s request for sanctions, the PSWID attorney asked they be denied and the district be awarded attorney fees and costs.
He gave several reasons the board did not live up to its stipulated agreement to post the $3.2 million bond, including Hardcastle’s alleged failure to supply the district with complete records.
Gliege argues the BU president turned over to the board outdated water system maps, no locations of water meters and their size and an incomplete list of names and addresses of customers.
Also in Gliege’s response he contends that Compass Bank had indeed agreed to finance the purchase of the water companies.
In the June 1 legal action Brooke took against the district, Hardcastle’s attorneys wrote, PSWID has been “forced to admit that it did not have and indeed never did have the financing or funds available to post the bond.”
In response to that claim, Gliege filed with the court a letter from Compass Bank City President Michael J. Whalen that seems to support the board’s contention that it did have the financial commitment to purchase the two water companies
However, on the heavily redacted term sheet, all mention of the dollar amounts of Compass Bank’s purchase agreement has been blacked out.
Gliege defended that in his motion writing that if Hardcastle knew the loan authorization was for a greater amount than the water systems were worth, it would be difficult to negotiate a price.
Gliege also argued the district needs all the money possible for water system repairs and improvements.
Also at the June 20 board meeting, members approved a tentative budget.
It is expected to be made public in July.