Doug Lingner, Embattled Housing Authority Executive Director, Rejects Severance Offer

The Housing Authority of Maricopa County's executive director, Doug Lingner, is rejecting a settlement agreement because he wants a chance to "defend" himself -- oh, and six months' salary, too.

"The Release/Severance package which has been forwarded me for signature is a completely one-sided document," Lingner wrote in a letter to the agency's general counsel, Chris Keller, dated March 22. "The document precludes me from speaking about any matters in which I was involved with at HAMC and furthermore precludes me from even defending myself against the baseless and inaccurate New Times accusations.

"I will not allow my reputation to be challenged and I therefore will retain the right to defend myself and my honor and it is for that reason that I will not sign this document."

Oddly, though, the letter immediately follows that noble-sounding statement with a demand for more money.

"I feel that I have been wronged and therefore will only agree to a severance package which would involve at a minimum six months salary plus benefits," he writes, "and secondly, to language which will allow me to defend myself ..."

The letter was given to Housing Authority board members today. They had set a deadline of 5 p.m. yesterday for Lingner to accept the agreement.

You can read the letter here.

Interestingly, the letter's been signed by Lingner's lawyer, Mike Curley -- a zoning attorney in Phoenix who's best known for his representation of plugged-in local developers.

But Lingner could have a hard time with his attempts to play hardball.

For one thing, he's already admitted to hiring his relatives on at least four occasions -- a clear violation of the agency's bylaws. Even if the other allegations are more difficult to prove, that's a gimme.

And court records show that Lingner, who's still being paid a six-figure salary by the housing authority, is in financial straits. In the last month, the bank filed a lawsuit against him and his wife for allegedly defaulting on a $100,000 line of credit. The couple also face a lawsuit from American Express for an unpaid $13,000 credit card bill, according to court records. And late last year, court records show, they barely managed to stave off foreclosure on their Laveen home.

We'll have more about the housing authority in this week's print edition, but we wanted to keep you posted in the meantime.

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Sarah Fenske
Contact: Sarah Fenske