BY STEVE LAMAR | DECEMBER 11, 2013
Francia and Trenk bring Pinal County government to Cave Creek for the holidays
Mayor Francia and temporary Town Manager Glassman highlight with pride the “diverse” finalists for town manager that Trenk, Francia, a guy from Mesa, and Glassman gave us in the latest self promotion fliers we paid for to the tune of $5,000. This is our holiday surprise gift, kept secret, of course, for our own good.
Francia prattles on about his Darwinian connection to snakes and scorpions, odd but understandable, because when you find out about the holiday surprise gift you may just throw up on the spot.
You see what Glassman and Francia didn’t tell you in the holiday self promotion we paid for is that in a secret selection process they blew through 80 resumes, never interviewed anyone, and left us with two guys from the East Coast or Himanshu Patel, the former Florence, Ariz. town manager.
The guys from the East Coast are clearly bad fits, unless the regime intends to convince you that the West’s most Western Town needs the East’s most Eastern Manager. Mr. Patel from Florence, Ariz, passed over by other towns since then, is the regimes guy. But Pinal County, and Florence in particular, aren’t models of good government.
So as a concerned citizen who helped write the first general plan in Cave Creek, I did a little Googling. I had only read a couple articles when I reached for the waste basket, and a cold chill radiated down my spine.
First, Pinal County has historically been the weak sister of Pima and Maricopa County. Dotted with poor small towns, they have attempted to “catch up” with rampant, poorly managed growth. With the catch up game come problems with corruption. The last Pinal County Manager went to prison.
Next, Florence is the county seat for Pinal County, historically plagued with serious management problems. Utilities and the police are a couple of the most notable problem issues. Florence is a prison town, that according to one of it’s own councilmen, has been “going down” for years (the years Patel was managing it). It is not an attractive or prosperous town.
Never in all the years I have lived in and served Cave Creek have I ever heard anyone suggest they wished we were more like Florence.
If you Google Patel and Florence you will run across lots of references to George Johnson. One of the first articles you find is by Mark Cowling quoting Johnson bemoaning Patel’s departure from Florence. Johnson was at a town council meeting to convince the council to allow Johnson Utilities to take over supplying water and utilities for the southern part of Florence. According to Johnson, he and Patel had been working on a deal for six months and now, from Johnson’s perspective, it was a real shame that all the work was going to get bogged down with public hearings.
A little further in the Google search you come across contact with Patel, Florence and the Rose Law Firm that employs Vice Mayor Trenk, one of the secret selection committee members. You won’t find any other connection between Cave Creek and Patel.
So why is George Johnson’s connection to Patel, and Patel’s connection to Trenk’s firm a problem?
In my study at home I have a beautiful pencil work of a cowboy with a white hat done by Bob Bose Bell, one of our talented Cave Creek neighbors. It is nicely framed and bears this inscription, “Steven LaMar; with great appreciation for bringing justice to Arizona. Attorney General Terry Goddard."
The White Hat award was given to me for being lead counsel in a State v. George Johnson et al. That environmental enforcement civil action brought on behalf of the State Land Department, Arizona Game and Fish, ADEQ, and the University of Arizona accused Johnson and his sub contractors, of trespassing on and bulldozing state land and immensely important archeological sites, killing big horn sheep and fouling the waterways in the Ironwood National Monument. The Ironwood National Monument is one of the great treasures of Arizona and the United States. Former Governor, Secretary of the Interior, and Arizona Rancher Bruce Babbitt was one of the key witnesses against Johnson in our case against Johnson and his contractors.
After we established a prima facia case for punitive damages against Johnson, he and his subcontractors settled for $12,000,000. In Arizona you must prove the wrongdoer acted intentionally and with an evil mind, to be awarded punitive damages. This is the largest environmental enforcement award in the history of Arizona. The Johnson victory was proclaimed by the Arizona Republic as one of top ten accomplishments of the decade.
If you Google Johnson Utilities you will find story after story of complaints, violations, and problems with Johnson’s water service. If you Google Johnson and the Ironwood National Monument you will find story after story confirming Johnson’s conduct and the efforts made to stop him.
When you wash your mouth out and put the waste basket on the back porch so it doesn’t smell up the house, ask yourself why would your leaders pick a guy from a prison town like Florence associated with the likes of George Johnson to run this beautiful town that, at it’s heart, is all about preservation and natural beauty? Is it just a coincidence the only connection Patel has to Cave Creek is Trenk’s law firm? Is it just a coincidence that Trenk hand picked Glassman and put him on the secret selection committee?
If George Johnson wishes Patel was still in Florence, he is not a guy you want doing Francia and Trenk’s bidding Cave Creek.
I trust you will say thanks, but no thanks to the regime for the holiday surprise. Get connected, stay connected, this is our town. We must protect it.
Steve LaMar is a Cave Creek Horseman and Citizen