When confronted, Lingner didn't deny hiring his son, Huff says. He just repeated funding wasn't there.

But Huff had done her homework. Before being let go, classified employees are supposed to get a chance to apply for open positions at the agency, including jobs being handled by temps.

So why wasn't she given that chance? Lingner couldn't seem to answer.

The housing authority's complex on North Seventh Street
Michael Ratcliff
The housing authority's complex on North Seventh Street

"There's a lot of corruption here," Huff told Lingner. "I'm taking this as far I can go."

Is that a threat? Lingner asked.

"That's a promise," Huff responded.

And then Lingner asked her a curious question, she says. He asked her this: "What would you have done if you had an opportunity for your kids?"

That night, Huff began calling the commissioners, blowing the whistle on Lingner's nepotism. She says they seemed sympathetic, at first.

But nothing changed.

The very next day, in fact, Brandon Lingner's name was added to the employee roster.

And Will McFarland, the temporary employee who was one of Huff's good friends in the office, was let go, too. Lingner had promised him for months that they'd find funding to bring him on full-time. But now Lingner said there wasn't enough money.

And then Lingner said something else, McFarland recalls.

"I know you and [Huff] are friends," Lingner told McFarland. "Be careful who you talk to."

Lingner confirms that his son did work as a temp for a five-week period in December and January. He insists there was nothing nefarious about the hire; thanks to his time as a volunteer, Brandon knew the ropes, he says.

"He was just trying to help," Lingner says of his son.


Tania Huff's calls to the agency's commissioners may not have changed her situation, but they definitely got someone's attention.

On December 23, one week before Huff's position was to be eliminated, she was placed on paid leave. She was ordered to take her personal items and go.

Unbeknownst to her supervisors, though, Huff had already photocopied key documents. Among them: the papers she was given at her hiring, which clearly state that her position was classified.

Armed with those documents, Huff contacted the Reverend Oscar Tillman, president of the Maricopa County chapter of the NAACP. Tillman says he immediately began calling Lingner, hoping to talk to him about correcting the mistake and taking Huff back.

But Lingner wouldn't return Tillman's phone calls. His assistant told Tillman that Lingner couldn't meet with him until after the holidays.

Tillman would have none of that. He began calling the board of commissioners. And that's when, he says, suddenly Lingner was available for a meeting after all.

The meeting was awkward, to say the least. Lingner kept trying to make assertions — only to have Tillman respond with documents that showed he was incorrect. "He didn't know what he was doing," Tillman tells New Times.

But the situation became even more awkward when Lingner apparently tried to establish rapport by telling Tillman about a friend who made racial comments in front of a black employee — but "he wasn't like that," or so Lingner explained awkwardly.

"It was so uncomfortable," Tillman says. "I started looking around thinking, 'Is this guy okay?' It was so out of line . . . something I would have heard guys talking about when I entered the Air Force in 1960.

"Maybe he was trying to endear himself to me, but he did not succeed at all," Tillman says. "He succeeded in looking like a fool."

At that meeting, Lingner promised to look into Huff's situation and get back to Tillman. He never did. Tillman estimates that he contacted the housing authority 20 times in January and early February.

Either Lingner wasn't there or he couldn't talk. Tillman would get transferred to the human resources person, who'd say they were working on it. When Tillman called the chairman of the board, Richard Cole, Cole would call back on Lingner's behalf and report that Lingner was out sick.

Last Thursday, Tillman got some credible information that Lingner was, in fact, working on agency business. So he called Cole and demanded to know why he kept getting the runaround.

Cole called back, apologetic. He'd finally gotten the straight answer from Lingner: Lingner's attorneys had told him not to talk to Tillman.

Tillman is now talking to his lawyers about filing suit on Huff's behalf.

Tillman says Cole has been straight with him, but he's fed up with everyone else at the housing authority — particularly Doug Lingner.

"These people have to be some of the dumbest people in the world," he says.


In January and February, even as Oscar Tillman kept dialing the agency in vain, the HAMC was dealt a few crippling blows.

In addition to documents obtained through a public-records request, New Times received an anonymous packet of information last month: monthly statements from the agency's credit cards.

Those documents show a raft of questionable purchases made by Lingner. Among them:

• An average of $200 a month on meals at restaurants, including hotspots like the Valley Ho Hotel, Portland's, My Florist, and the Orange Table.

• Travel, including $1,629 for meals and hotel rooms in San Antonio, $609 for meals and a hotel in Sacramento, and $1,071 for two stays at the Treasure Island Hotel in Las Vegas.

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My Voice Nation Help
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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