Guest Editorial

By Bob Williams   |  October 21, 2015

An open letter to the Cave Creek Town Council

Mayor Francia and Cave Creek Town Council Members:
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We are now some 8 months into the four new Cave Creek Council Member’s term and, with their leadership, town council has made significant progress on the administrative front in cleaning up the mess left by the recalled Trenk Slate (Trenk, Monachino, Durkin & Spitzer). Accomplishments include significantly upgrading the expertise and professionalism of the planning commission, retaining a competent and professional town attorney, settling the lawsuits resulting from illegally firing the Town Manager, and causing Mr. Prinzhorn to seek other employment. Each of these issues was obvious, none were easy and all were important, but you cannot stop yet.

The next task is placing the town under competent management. When the Trenk Slate illegally fired Mr. Abujbarah and was forced to advertise for an Interim town manager, several of the 6 or 8 local applicants were very well qualified. Unfortunately, the Slate’s fix was in to hire Trenk’s buddy Rodney Glassman who had no qualifications at all for the job. It is common knowledge the Slate used Mr. Glassman, by then their totally unqualified Interim town manager, to rig the town manager search so their handpicked guy would be the obvious selection for the permanent job. Mr. Glassman dutifully disappeared behind closed doors and concocted a most unusual and secretive national search process, which attracted some 80 applicants, many of whom were local and very well qualified. But, the Glassman search process worked to perfection because when the cunning Mr. Glassman reappeared, the three finalist candidates announced were the Slate’s very experienced local handpicked guy along with two well meaning gentlemen from the east coast. The fix was in again such that the obvious selection was the Trenk Slate’s candidate – that is, until his background was outed by a concerned and informed resident as a guy closely aligned with a crooked developer with deals as a town manager in Pinal County, who had ties to Trenk and his employer and appeared to be the kind of a guy you don’t want anywhere around. Once his record was exposed, not even the Slate could continue to support him. Enter Mr. Jankowski from Massachusetts, the default selection, who is a nice guy but the wrong guy; a fish out of water hired by the Trenk Slate as an unintended consequence. Examples of Mr. Jankowski’s inept performance abound but a few might be instructive.

In the recent past a very astute and very successful business man and his attorney had occasion to meet with Messrs. Jankowski and Prinzhorn. After the meeting, this gentleman commented that “the Town Manager is a nice enough guy, but he doesn’t manage anything and his utility director is not only stupid, but a @*#&*.” That stunningly accurate assessment was made in less than an hour and to that assessment, I say AMEN as that was exactly my experience after my own meeting with them on a different issue. After my meeting, they did nothing they agreed to do and ultimately refused to communicate with me at all. Messrs.
Jankowski and Prinzhorn later fine tuned that approach to handle the tough issues by simply not responding at all, sometimes even to you council members. Why you tolerate that disrespect is a mystery to me. This tactic extends to the Kiwanis drainage issue, many individual residents and to at least two Maricopa County agencies the town must do business with who note Mr. Prinzhorn simply did not return phone calls.

Any moderately competent manager would have seen through Mr. Prinzhorn and replaced him months ago, but Mr. Jankowski eventually had to be pushed to do so and even then Mr. Prinzhorn continued to call the shots. For whatever reason, Mr. Prinzhorn seemed to own Mr. Jankowski.

Mr. Jankowski first tried to hide from the infamous “cut off Rancho Manana Golf Course water” issue, which as bonus added arsenic to our drinking water, then denied knowing anything about it. When the emails from Mr. Prinzhorn and the Water Committee were exposed and proved everyone involved exercised incredibly poor judgment and/or lied about it, Mr. Jankowski led the effort to sweep it under the rug – and left all of those responsible in their jobs.

Mr. Jankowski routinely supported Mr. Prinzhorn’s elimination of key utilities personnel who actually understood operation of the system as they were perceived to be a threat to Prinzhorn and, thus, Cave Creek now has all the utilities problems one would expect from protracted incompetent management.

As a direct ‘in your face’ insult to you council members and to the town, Mr. Jankowski put a recalled councilman on the 2015 Budget Committee and he may still be there.

He condoned sexual harassment on the staff, reportedly by the ubiquitous Mr.Prinzhorn, and has the staff so afraid they will not talk about it or formally report it. That chilling atmosphere supposedly disappeared with Messrs. Trenk and Glassman. How can any town council ignore the situation created by their town manager where the staff is afraid to report serious misconduct as well as putting the town at such risk? On the brighter side for the staff, the citizens’ recall election summarily removed Trenk and Monachino from skulking around town hall all day telling the staff what to do while ignoring the town manager who, in turn, ignored their egregious behavior.

It goes on and on and it isn’t going to get better. He is not a manager, will never move Cave Creek forward and Cave Creek will continue to suffer the same embarrassment and consequences. Cave Creek citizens deserve better, the staff deserves better and Cave Creek’s reputation in the valley needs significant improvement.

It’s critical now to hire a competent town manager who will professionally manage the town. Make the change properly and fairly but do it soon.