As a former Payson Roundup reporter whose beat assignment for seven years was the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District (PSWID), I applaud the PSWID recall committee for their efforts to entrust the future and fate of the district to voters.
Although committee members are facing an arduous, time-consuming and controversial recall task, they’ve had the courage to forge ahead with their convictions that some board members have not been responsive to water users, have made decisions that were not in the best interest of the townspeople of Pine and Strawberry, and have run meetings that were both chaotic and unproductive.
The committee’s “Grounds for Recall Demand” recently filed with the county in Globe, spells out the reasons members believe Chairman Ray Pugel, Vice Chairman Gary Lovetro, Treasurer Ron Calderon and Secretary Richard Dickerson should be recalled.
It is my opinion, the reasons the committee expressed for the recall are mostly all valid.
Even more reasons could have been added had the recall committee chosen to include the events of a contentious three-hour board meeting in June 2010 that was turned upside down when some board members accused staff of conspiracy and demanded the resignations of the board’s president and general manager.
In the end, the district lost its hydrologist, engineer and customer service supervisor. Later the board chairman and general manager resigned.
The resignations struck a blow to the struggling water district, which was battling contending views on how to provide water to residents and move forward with improvements.
Somewhat ironically, it was the then-board treasurer who made the most noise at the meeting questioning the service manager’s competence and calling for the resignation of the board chairman and general manager.
In 2012, that treasurer resigned after weeks of mounting pressure that centered on his misuse of a district credit card.
The tumultuous 2010 meeting was only the first of several combative and belligerent ones that followed.
Just last week, a PSWID board member (not Sam Schwalm) told me during a chance meeting in the Pine post office that he believed the recall was necessary because it will give voters a voice in the district’s future.
I whole heartedly agree.