Lingner hasn't hesitated to help other friends and supporters benefit from other stimulus opportunities.

In May 2009, the HAMC was awarded $6.3 million to buy foreclosed homes in Buckeye, Goodyear, El Mirage, and Tolleson, rehab them, and sell them to qualified low-income buyers.

Under the system Lingner put in place, contractors — from real estate brokers to construction companies to housing counselors — had a brief window to submit qualifications. If their qualifications were good, they'd be added to the agency's roster. Only firms on the list would get a piece of the work.

Peggy Bilsten
Peggy Bilsten

Lingner says it's strictly coincidence, but most of the firms on the roster were big supporters of Lingner during his time on the city council or somehow have a connection to someone at HAMC.

Among them:

• Lingner personally recommended that staffers get in touch with Charter Home Alliance after being contacted by the company's lobbyist. In an e-mail, Lingner told staffers that he knew the company's owners and its lobbyist from his time on the city council. Charter Home Alliance has since been selected for $55,265 in remodeling projects.

• Some of Lingner's top supporters during his city council campaigns were employees at Arvizu Advertising. Even as the company filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in the summer of 2009, the housing authority selected it to market homes to buyers. The firm has been paid $74,255 to date.

• After Arvizu was under contract, Lingner hired Monica Gaynor to work at the HAMC. Gaynor is married to Emilio Gaynor, the vice president at Arvizu and the HAMC's point person for the marketing contract.

• Michael Huscroft & Associates was selected to do all appraisals for the $6.3 million grant. It's been paid $10,125 to date. On its application for the job, Huscroft disclosed that he had a "current, past personal or professional relationship" with a commissioner or officer at the HAMC. That relationship is unclear, since Huscroft did not include a written explanation, which the form requires. Lingner says, to the best of his knowledge, the firm was just being careful because Huscroft knew him from his time on the council.

Records also show that Cherokee Development, a real estate and development firm, has been selected to serve as one of the brokers on the project.

That firm's principal, C. Scott Davis, was a big contributor to Doug Lingner's city council campaigns. But that's not his only tie to HAMC leadership.

Davis' firm shares a North Phoenix office suite with attorney Richard Cole Jr. — the longtime chairman of the housing authority's board of commissioners.

Cherokee did not disclose any "professional or personal" relationship on its application. Cole did not return calls for comment.

Lingner says Cole has made a point of recusing himself on votes that involve his clients. But Lingner has also refused to release evaluations of the firms submitting qualifications — or even tell New Times who served on the panel.

The matter is under investigation, he says.


Some employees say that Lingner is a friendly, if hands-off, boss. He seems to delegate most day-to-day decisions to his deputies.

The agency's central office is small, with just 26 workers operating out of two buildings that share a parking lot. But Will McFarland, who was hired as a temp, tells New Times that he worked at the agency for months before figuring out who Lingner was.

"I kept hearing 'Doug' 'Doug' 'Doug,'" McFarland says. "I didn't know who that was."

Tania Huff initially had a better impression.

In the spring of 2008, Huff, who is African-American, had left a good job as a social worker to counsel the housing authority's Section 8 clients. She liked the work, but the money was important, too: She's a single mom with two biological kids and one foster child to take care of.

Soon after Huff started at the HAMC, her brother was murdered. Huff went on leave, and by the time she'd returned, a few months later, the agency had a new executive director: Doug Lingner.

Lingner made a point of asking how family was doing, which she appreciated. Yes, he talked a lot — which is pretty much the first thing anyone will tell you about Doug Lingner — but they got on okay.

Until, that is, last December.

As Huff tells it, Lingner called her into his office and announced that he was terribly sorry, but the grant that funded her position had run out.

She was being let go.

Huff was shocked. According to the documents she'd been given at the time of her hire, she was a classified employee — she was supposed to be protected from grant cycles. (She would never have left her social work job, she says, without a guarantee of protection at the HAMC.)

She left the meeting in a daze. But the next day, she went back to see Lingner.

There isn't money, he repeated.

"You have your son working here," Huff responded.

By this point, everyone knew that 17-year-old Brandon Lingner wasn't just a volunteer, as his father had originally claimed when he started in August. Brandon often came to work with his father in the morning and didn't leave until his father left at the day's end. In October, he was given business cards — something that temps like McFarland never got. (The card, which New Times obtained, lists his title as "customer support.")

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13 comments
Marcy
Marcy

""We need to find a way to make housing more affordable to more people.""

Utter nonsense. Housing is already dirt cheap.

What we need to do is find a way to make PEOPLE more responsible.

The reason most people spend decades in public housing is because they've been spending their entire life making poor choices, all at public expense. Stop enabling people.

JJ
JJ

Ellman is up to his neck in the Sheriff's Command Association. I wonder if there is a connection Fenske missed between HAMC and Arpaio's crappy real estate empire? Keep digging, Sarah.

As far as Lingner goes, he will be having some quality times with a HUD OIG agent very soon. Look for charges including Theft of Honest Services and Obstruction.

Bye, Doug.

rick lingner
rick lingner

what goes around comes around , i hope that your brother sees this as well. you never got anything for your dads well so you have to go after the taxes payers money.

Carlos
Carlos

With all of the corruption going on in state, local and federal government this is the best you could come up with? The money he doled to his son and relatives is unethical but it really is just chump change. Why is the government even involved with housing in the first place? The last time I read the constitution there was no amendment guaranteeing the right to free or subsidized housing. I've read several of your articles before Ms. Fenske and this one is not your best work. That's allright we all have bad days. Why not take a look at the billions of dollars the governmnent is funneling nationally and the millions of dollars locally that is being funneled to developers, bankers, the community groups, and many other sundry agencies, quasi-agencies, private public partnerships. etc. That's how you'll win your Pulitzer.

Stacy
Stacy

Many of those guys are contributors to Arapio's campaigns .. check it out.

James Bailey
James Bailey

Sarah, you should follow up on Casa de Paz I & II (formerly the Roeser apartments at 18th St. & Roeser). They've been HORRIBLY mismanaged for over a year now and I'm guessing some shenanigans have been pulled regarding that project. 100s of people have lost their homes, the mgmnt is not fixing or repairing existing resident's apartments (my friend lives with a huge hole in the roof and ceiling due to a malfunctioning Swamp Cooler!) and the whole apartment complex is slated to be demolished with the existing tenants (all Section 8) being evicted with no place to go!!!

This place has in the past been used by religious types to ShowBoat their concern for the poor so I'm guessing there's some one that's also going to profit handsomely by demoslishing them and buildling some new project with stimulus money.

A lot of my band members (including Michael Jackson's uncle) and other musicians are living under Section 8 housing and I'm concerned about their welfare.

Thank you for your reportage!

BTW - I helped start New Times by passing out copies of the first issue(s) during the Vietnam Era.

Me
Me

How can anyone defend what this economic terrorist is doing. Then again this is Maricopa County. These defenders of Lingner are probably the same ones that defend Sheriff You-Know-Who. The guy is a crook. You don't need a personal vendetta to see that!!

TommyC
TommyC

It sure seems odd that some of you readers are trying to make this a 'personal' thing with Ms. Fenske. She wrote a story about something that seems to be a problem by a quasi-governmental agency, funded by taxpayer monies.

From her report it seems to me there needs to be a thorough investigation and resulting action taken.

I don't know the guy in this story. So, it's not personal for me. But it appears he is breaking laws and should be charged for those violations, and removed from office.

Now, how do you make my feelings seem personal?

Roger
Roger

I'm all about saving my taxes but how much money was this about? A really hard read given Fenske goes back and forth over 15 years and talks about everything from his neighborhood activism to he wears Hawaiian shirts instead of suits and she really seems to hate the guy. This is personal with her!

BTW: Don't businesses have to submit bids to do work for government $s? Fenske even says that Lingner wanted to give the brother time to finish his bid.

Fire the kid, hire the Mom (if she's qualified) and get back to work Doug!

Mike
Mike

Who do you have to know to get a job at HAMC? Apparently Doug Lingner! Doug, I think I may be your 4th cousin on your moms side, any chance of you hooking me up with a job? Or perhaps I could do some "volunteer" work.

Bob
Bob

Hey Fenske

It sounds like any employee who photo copies documents right before they get fired, might have know they were deserving of it. I wouldn't trust that kind of employee either. And what did Lingner do to you, it sounds like a personal hatred to bring his personal finances from 20 years ago into it. Some people have hard times...

Hope you always stay flush or some reporter might beat you down...

TommyC
TommyC

"The matter is under investigation, he says."

Sarah, does this sound familiar?

Just like the MCSO shurf, if anyone crosses the guy, they become a target of an investigation.

Just like the MCSO shurf, if he is asked a hard question and any documents are requested, "the matter is under investigation".

Where do you suppose Lingner learned this little trick? I wonder what his relationship with the MCSO shurf has been?

SO MANY parallels can be drawn from your report to those known to have occurred with MCSO.

Spank this bitch, Sarah. He apparently deserves it.

 
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