Doug Lingner's Tenure at the Housing Authority of Maricopa County Has Been Marked by Nepotism, Cronyism -- and Plenty of Turmoil
It started with the boss' brother.
Doug Lingner had been executive director of the Housing Authority of Maricopa County for just two months when he hired his brother to repair a carport at the agency's Seventh Street complex. Total cost: $2,000.
Now, that wasn't such a big deal. Yes, state law should have stopped Lingner from hiring a family member for anything. (The agency, which works to provide affordable housing, receives much of its funding from the government, so nepotism is strictly verboten.)
But Lingner, a former Phoenix city councilman, was new to the position. And his brother was paid only $2,000. Hard to get too worked up about that.
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Miami Marlins
TicketsFri., Sep. 22, 6:40pm
Arizona Cardinals Game Zone - 9/25 - Not A Game Ticket
TicketsMon., Sep. 25, 2:15pm
Arizona Cardinals vs. Dallas Cowboys
TicketsMon., Sep. 25, 5:30pm
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Francisco Giants
TicketsMon., Sep. 25, 6:40pm
WWE Smackdown Live
TicketsTue., Sep. 26, 4:45pm
Then Lingner hired his teenage son and his nephew, paying them $1,000 each to clear the housing authority's parking lot after a storm.
And then he hired an old friend, this time for a full-time job. And a former colleague from the city council, as a lobbyist.
Then he hired a public relations firm that not so long ago had supported his council campaigns. And he hired his brother again — this time for more money.
It got to the point where employees at the Housing Authority started making nervous jokes. "Next year we won't have a Christmas party," they said. "Next year, it'll be a family reunion."
Then Lingner hired his son, for a full-time temp job. The kid is 17 years old. Seventeen!
Even as Lingner hired him, he fired a single mother of two, telling her there simply wasn't enough money to keep paying her salary.
That's when people stopped joking. That's when people got mad.
Eighteen months ago, the Housing Authority of Maricopa County, or HAMC, hired Doug Lingner to be its executive director. Soon after his hiring, New Times published a column suggesting he was woefully unqualified.
But no one could have predicted how quickly, or how badly, Lingner would screw things up.
Our investigation shows that, in Lingner's 18-month tenure at the HAMC, he's repeatedly flouted agency bylaws and, in some cases, may have violated the law.
It's not just that the housing authority has become a stomping ground for Lingner's friends and family, although that's certainly the case. And it's not just that much of the federal stimulus money administered by the agency is going to Lingner's friends and political supporters. That's true, too.
And it isn't even only that Lingner has wasted tax dollars on perks for himself. (A New Times review of housing authority credit card statements shows that, even as government agencies across the country tighten their belts, Lingner has treated himself to lunches, valet parking, and travel to Las Vegas.)
It's all of the above.
It's that he's hired cronies rather than qualified people. He's wasted money. When the Reverend Oscar Tillman, who runs the local NAACP, asked Lingner to explain why he fired a young black woman to make room for his son, Lingner spent more than a month ducking his calls. The agency is now almost certainly facing a lawsuit over the woman's firing.
Lingner takes it all in stride. He agreed to answer New Times' questions earlier this week and appeared to have a ready answer for almost everything. (One notable exception: who selected firms for construction and development work. Lingner refused to answer, saying the matter is part of an internal investigation.) For the most part, he was friendly, chatty, and befuddled as to why anyone would think there's a problem at his agency.
He chalked up the issues identified by New Times to growing pains. He's trying to change the way the HAMC does business, he says. Of course he's ruffled some feathers.
But Lingner's management has clearly led to big problems at the HAMC — problems that can't help but affect the agency's mission of providing affordable housing.
The agency has an annual budget of $20 million, although it's also picked up additional millions recently, thanks to federal stimulus money. Its 50 or so employees manage nine low-income apartment complexes and work to counsel families into housing, be it Section 8 apartments or the purchase of a home.
This is a critical time for any housing authority.
"So many people are losing their jobs, not only in the cities, but also in the country," says Luisa Stark, chair of the Phoenix Consortium to End Homelessness. "We need to find a way to make housing more affordable to more people." Records show the agency's waiting list has thousands of names on it — and that list is only growing.
Yet instead of focusing on those very real issues, the housing authority under Lingner has attempted to establish itself as a big-deal developer, pitching ambitious programs for stimulus funds. So far, those efforts have failed, even as the agency has become engulfed in drama — much of it apparently caused by Lingner's poor decision-making and subsequent clumsy attempts to deal with the fallout.
New Times has been in contact with numerous people associated with the HAMC. They describe a climate of fear that took root when a soon-to-be-terminated employee threatened to expose Lingner's "corruption" to the housing authority's board of commissioners. Employees were instructed not to provide information to the former worker; one of her close friends at the agency, a temp, was told that his position was being eliminated. (Soon thereafter, a different temp was hired.)
When New Times put in a public-records request three weeks ago, the agency's deputy director immediately called a staff meeting and warned that no one was to talk to this newspaper. "We're talking about federal money here," the deputy director said, according to someone in attendance. "This is prison time!" (The deputy director also stressed to employees that the agency had done nothing wrong.)
The atmosphere became even more tense when a veteran employee was placed on paid leave last month and told he was "under investigation," without any reason given. Weeks later, within a few hours of New Times' public-records request, Janet Belfield, the agency's grant writer, was also placed on paid leave pending an "investigation."
Belfield is believed to have attempted to contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development with concerns about Lingner's spending. She did not respond to requests for comment.
Jereon Brown, a HUD spokesman, says that the issues raised by New Times should trigger scrutiny.
Because housing authorities get so much federal money, HUD is quick to order investigations when it receives credible information about misspending or policy violations, the spokesman says.
"Generally based on what you're telling me, it looks like a practice," he says. "Sometimes, the perception could be a reality.
"We go in when a concern like this is raised."
Like most housing authorities, the HAMC is something of a hybrid. It's not technically a government agency — but, because most of its funding comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, it might as well be.
Indeed, the HAMC used to be part of county government. At that point, it wasn't a stand-alone agency. It was simply the department that got Maricopa County's HUD funds and managed the county's Section 8 program and other low-income housing projects.
In 2004, however, the county spun off the department. Each county supervisor appoints a commissioner to oversee its operations, and a deputy county attorney signs off on procedures. But it's technically an independent agency, outside the control of County Manager David Smith.
New Times attempted to contact each of the agency's commissioners. Not one could be reached for comment.
It was the commissioners who chose Lingner. Two years ago, the agency's director of five years left the HAMC for a similar job in Alabama. The open position quickly drew 54 applicants.
And that's why it was so strange when the commissioners ultimately chose a candidate who didn't even meet their agency's minimum qualifications.
As New Times reported at the time, the HAMC said it wanted a candidate with seven years of administrative experience, a bachelor's degree, financial acumen, and an "apolitical" nature.
Somehow, it ended up choosing a high school graduate whose only administrative experience was supervising a staff of four while a city councilman. And it wasn't just that Doug Lingner had no college education, little experience "administrating," or even that his personal finances were perpetually a mess. It was that he seemed about as political as it gets.
The main argument for his hiring seemed to be that Lingner needed a job — and that the developers who run this town were pulling for him.
On the city council, Lingner had been the developer's go-to guy. But he didn't start that way. When he first ran, he was a nobody: a "citizen activist" ranting about illegal immigration at City Hall and unknown to the developers who finance most council races. He won his first race — taking on the Hispanic incumbent — with a budget of just $9,000.
Twelve years after he was first elected, that race would take on near-mythic proportions. The councilman would tell the Arizona Republic that he took a job delivering lost luggage at night to make time for campaigning. "He would campaign all day, take a nap, then wake up and deliver people their bags from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.," the Republic dutifully noted.
Documents from the time, however, tell a different story. According to the financial-disclosure forms that Lingner filed with the city clerk during his first campaign, in 1994, his only source of income was his wife's pharmacy job — and his own long-term disability pay. On the form, he reported his occupation as "domestic engineer."
The Lingners' finances at the time were tenuous, at best. They'd already filed for bankruptcy, twice, according to court records. Just two years earlier, they'd lost their home to foreclosure, putting the family of four into a Laveen apartment.
Once elected, Lingner proved to be nothing if not a canny politician. The former tile setter insisted on wearing Hawaiian shirts to city meetings, even as the other guys showed up in business attire. The message was clear: He was the populist in a sea of suits.
And Lingner pulled off his populist pose even as he was increasingly becoming one of the suits.
Almost from the moment of his first electoral victory, he began pulling in big campaign contributions from developers. "When I ran for the city council in 1994, nobody returned Doug Lingner's phone call," Lingner himself told New Times. "Once I got elected, suddenly I had 5,000 friends."
Lingner was unsuccessfully threatened with recall twice and re-elected twice; every time, he drew the support of the city's most well-connected players, from developer Steve Ellman to attorney Paul Gilbert to Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver. The guy who ran the shoestring campaign — with shoe leather and $9,000 — managed to raise more than $50,000 to head off the first recall effort against him.
And he didn't just schmooze the developers. He thought about becoming one of them. While on the council, Lingner got licensed as a real estate broker, got a job with a title company, and even started a company, D & J Ventures, to help developers with "land assembly."
Term limits forced Lingner's retirement in December 2007. And though he'd once planned to do some development of his own, by that time, the bottom had dropped out of the local real estate market. He told the Republic that he planned to keep working at the title company and to "continue to be involved at the city, speaking at council meetings like he did while a neighborhood activist."
He never did. Instead, eight months later, he got himself appointed the new director of the Housing Authority of Maricopa County.
The staff there liked someone else: a guy with a master's degree and extensive experience running a housing authority in another state. They thought Lingner "talked a lot, but didn't say very much."
The board of commissioners went with Lingner anyway.
Lingner says the board wanted a change. "They had two clear choices: me or the guy with the hardcore HUD pedigree. They went with me.
"They didn't want me to get involved in politics," he continues. "But they wanted me to take advantage of my political connections to get things done and change the way the HAMC was perceived."
In the 18 months since Lingner has been running the HAMC, New Times' investigation shows, he has repeatedly violated agency policies to enrich himself and his family.
Housing authority bylaws state flatly that "individuals may not be hired if they have a member of their immediate family working at HAMC." Yet records reviewed by New Times show that Lingner himself recommended that his family members be hired in several instances:
• He personally requested that the HAMC hire his brother, Dwayne, to do $2,000 in repairs to the agency carport in the fall of 2008.
• He personally requested that the agency hire his teenage son, Brandon, and his nephew to do $2,000 in cleanup in the agency parking lot after a storm downed several trees in February 2009.
• Lingner hired Brandon Lingner for a desk job some time in late 2009. Brandon, 17, was a "volunteer," but he was eventually hired as a "temp," even as other temps were being let go. In January, he was sent to Las Vegas to be certified as an inspector, although his father says he's back to being a volunteer and that he personally paid for the training.
Finally, Lingner appears to have pulled strings to hire his brother, Dwayne, for more handyman work in June 2009. The agency needed new awnings, so staffers got a $5,875 quote from a Central Phoenix company that manufactures and installs awnings.
Lingner, though, resisted the hire. "I'd like to have Dwayne finish his quote and then we can make an informed decision," he wrote to a staffer in an e-mail obtained by New Times.
When Dwayne Lingner's quote came in just $200 below the awning firm, he was hired, with his brother, Doug, personally authorizing the selection.
Doug Lingner says he never discussed the quote with his brother. After the fact, he says, his brother questioned why he didn't get inside information, telling him he could have used the extra $200. "I didn't supervise him or have any conversations with him about the job," Lingner insists — even though records show he personally used the HAMC credit card to buy materials for his brother's work.
Lingner's penchant for hiring family members may be his most obvious potential legal problem. But New Times' review of records shows that Lingner also has displayed a penchant for hiring friends and steering stimulus money to political supporters.
In June 2009, Lingner hired former Phoenix City Councilwoman Peggy Bilsten and her son, Tom, for $2,500 a month to lobby federal officials on the agency's behalf. Though Bilsten was a close ally of Lingner's on the council, neither she nor her son are registered as federal lobbyists, according to the Federal Elections Commission. They've been paid $32,985 to date.
Tom Bilsten Jr. was also hired, at one point, to do "outreach" work for the HAMC, connecting the agency with the faith-based community, according to his résumé. And both Bilstens are listed as "consultants" on a grant application Lingner filed with the Arizona Department of Housing.
The HAMC hoped to get $8 million in stimulus money to convert a Van Buren hotel to housing for veterans, and the former councilwoman and her husband were slated to "assist in the acquisition of property, coordinate issue resolution related to land use and permits, and provide other support," according to the HAMC's application.
Other than Peggy Bilsten's time on the council, neither Bilsten lists any experience with land use, permits, or property acquisition on their résumé.
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.
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.
• 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.")
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.
"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.
• A $212 charge at the Pinewood Country Club in Munds Park. The "private, member-owned club" boasts an 18-hole golf course.
Those expenses are troubling, especially in these tough economic times. (The purchases, undoubtedly, were subsidized by taxpayers.)
Jereon Brown, the HUD spokesman, says his agency will likely have its Phoenix office take a look at HAMC operations — and potentially make a referral to the Office of the Inspector General.
"We're concerned about the proper expenditure of funds," Brown says. "We're concerned that people are getting a roof over their heads, rather than someone dining out too much. We'll definitely take a look at this."
But what might be a bigger problem in the agency's immediate future is its failure to get more stimulus grants.
The first round of stimulus funding will expire in a year. The HAMC had hoped to get two major grants in the second round.
It failed in both attempts.
First was the agency's grant application for $8 million to rehab a hotel on Van Buren and Ninth Avenue as housing for veterans. Despite the work of former councilwoman Peggy Bilsten, the project's consultant, the Arizona Department of Housing recently announced that the project did not qualify for stimulus funding.
According to a letter from the Department of Housing, the errors in the HAMC's proposal were big ones. Projects chosen for grant money were supposed to include the purchase of property that's been foreclosed or abandoned. The housing authority's proposal did not. Projects were supposed to include demolition of a blighted structure. The housing authority's did not.
And buildings being purchased were supposed to be sold for at least one percent below the appraised market value. The HAMC, oddly, had agreed to pay the full appraised price.
The Department of Housing also pointed out that the HAMC had overstated the per-unit value of the project by a staggering 400 percent.
The project, the department concluded, "does not meet either federal or state program requirements."
Second, and even bigger, was a proposal for a $99 million project in South Scottsdale. That, too, was rejected — this time by HUD.
The HAMC's proposal was extremely unusual. The housing authority covers all of Maricopa County except Phoenix and Scottsdale — those municipalities have their own housing authorities. Yet Lingner decided to apply to purchase, rehab, and then resell a condo complex in South Scottsdale.
Once again, his team included all the usual suspects: Arvizu Advertising was to market the project. Michael Huscroft & Associates would do the appraisals. Cherokee Development — the real estate firm with ties to board chairman Richard Cole — would broker the units.
Lingner also brought in two new companies that he'd worked with on the city council. Developer Steve Ellman isn't known for his work on affordable housing, but he was a supporter of Lingner's going back to that first attempted recall. He and Reid Butler, another familiar face at City Hall, were being pitched as the master development team.
For the construction, the HAMC selected SKR Construction. Once again, the firm's principals, Allen and Sean Rice, had contributed to Lingner's council campaigns. Lingner had also used the company for some small rehab jobs around the agency.
HUD, apparently, wasn't impressed by the pitch. It turned down the project, giving its grants to Phoenix, Pima County, and Chicanos Por La Causa instead.
But that might be for the best. Because, as New Times has learned, the HAMC's proposal contains a serious misrepresentation.
HUD asked applicants to show that they were contributing some capital to the project other than the expected stimulus windfall. The HAMC didn't have much to offer, but it did note that it was in line to get $1 million from the Industrial Development Authority of Maricopa County, which issues low-interest bonds for construction projects.
"Doug Lingner, executive director of the Housing Authority of Maricopa County, appeared before the [Industrial Development] Authority and received verbal assurances that they will provide $1 million for the [Scottsdale] endeavor," the proposal notes.
But that simply wasn't true, as even Lingner now admits. (He tells New Times it was an error made due to haste, not deceitful intent.)
Lingner did visit the Industrial Development Authority, as director Tom Manos confirms. But when Lingner was there in March, the minutes show that he was pitching an entirely different property — the hotel for veterans on Van Buren.
And Manos certainly didn't receive an assurance of anything. The minutes say only that Lingner would be getting more information for the authority's board. Manos says that's pretty much how he remembers it.
"There are hard commitments and soft commitments," Manos says. "I would say we're not even close to a soft commitment."
Did Lingner ever say anything about a project in Scottsdale?
"No," Manos said. "I would remember that if he had."
Getting rejected by HUD — twice — has put an already nervous agency on the edge. All those calls from Tillman didn't help, either. Everyone knew that Tania Huff had threatened to expose Lingner's "corruption" — what would that mean for the agency?
Lingner made a move in January that only increased the antsiness.
The executive director announced that he was moving his office from one of the buildings on Seventh Street — where mostly top managers work — to the other, which shares a parking lot with the manager's suite but contains mostly lower-level employees.
The idea was apparently to restore relations with workers who were turning mutinous — or maybe just keep an eye on them.
But no office in the employee building was quite big enough for the boss. That meant more expenses. Lingner hired his go-to guys at SKR Construction to renovate his office, at a cost of $1,814.
He also had his office repainted. And, when he didn't quite like the color, he had it repainted again. His assistant's office was painted, too.
This time, Lingner didn't hire his brother, or his son. But he didn't have to look too far to find a painter.
He hired his assistant's daughter.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.