How Can There Be Governance When There Is No Trust?

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by Ric Hawthorne, Pine/Strawberry resident

In any democratic political system, large or small, you can only govern so long as you have the trust of the people you were elected to serve. Lose that trust, and everything you do is questioned. Ulterior motives are suspected. Every decision begins to be second-guessed. This is what occurred with the PSWID board. This is what led to the recall effort. This alone is what finally led to five board members resigning ... a complete lack in trust by the community in the board’s ability to oversee and lead this small mountain community water district.

The Gila County Board of Supervisors does not seem to understand this.

Tommie Cline Martin has stated that she wants to hold off elections for a new board until November of 2014, in an effort to let emotions calm down. Unfortunately, emotions will not calm down as long as we cannot move past all of the questions and mistrust created by the now resigned board members.

Why was no appraisal done prior to the purchase of the Milk Ranch Well?

Why was Mike Greer allowed access to the PSWID credit card for use in personal purchases months prior to it being disclosed by board member Tom Weeks?

Why was there never a full accounting of these questionable purchases?

Why was full restitution never made?

Why does a small town water district need an attorney at every meeting?

Why were sealed bids opened by one board member and decisions made without being voted on by the full board?

Was CH2M HILL privy to the bid process for the creation of a district master plan, which they eventually “won” the contract for?

Why were the 13 backup generators, purchased on one contract, yet installed via 13 individual contracts?

Who paid for the main line extension that was recently run south of town, toward the Jim Hill Development?

Why are almost 50 percent of the leaks identified in the independent leak survey that was recently completed, 6,175,800 gallons of water annually, coming from leaks identified as being caused by the new meter installation?

Why were new meters being cut and modified, voiding their warranties and causing them to leak?

Why is the accountant for the PSWID, Rebecca Sigetti, the person that writes the checks to management company CH2M HILL, a CH2M HILL employee?

Why does it appear that Supervisor Tommie Cline Martin is acting in lock step with the wishes of powerful Pine businessman, Realtor, developer, and recently resigned PSWID board chairman Ray Pugel?

Why hasn’t Tommie Cline Martin spoken with the board members who were not subject to recall or resignation?

Why has Tommie Cline Martin had closed door meetings with CH2M HILL manager Brad Cole?

Now there may be very good answers to some, if not all, of these questions, but can we trust these answers? Will there not always be questions? After all that has transpired, can we afford to blindly trust any of the decisions made by the past board?

It is time for a new start ... a clean start ... and the only way this will be accomplished is by calling for a special election as soon as possible to elect community representatives that have no hidden agendas, business interests, or overblown senses of self importance that will cause our community to have questions in the first place.

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